Renewable energy is emerging as the “clinch deal” in Japan`s painful power crisis that pits the government and business against public demand for zero nuclear power. But experts say the going is easier said than done.
“Renewable energy is now seen as the way forward for a decision that is heavily political. But issues remain contentious,” said energy expert Professor Takao Kashiwage, the advisory head of the government`s New Energy Subcommittee.
Kashiwage points out that renewable energy sources – mainly solar, wind, small hydro and geothermal from hot springs – while seen as a solution are still fraught with uncertainties given their dependence on the vagaries of the weather or public support.
“For a leading economy such as Japan`s, I would support keeping nuclear power as a firm option even though we must work to lessen that percentage,” he told IPS.
He explained that research has shown windmills located on Japanese seashores produce power that drops during the summer when winds are usually not strong. And in winter, when daylight hours shrink, solar generated energy is less abundant.
Even geothermal, touted as a vital energy investment in Japan given the country’s abundant hot springs, is facing a battle with local resorts – the Kusatsu Hot Spring Resort association, on Kyushu island, announced opposition to developing the clean energy for fear that the precious mineral hot springs would decrease in supply.
Japan is set to unveil a new energy policy this month that aims to reduce the country`s dependence on nuclear power drastically by 2030. Nuclear power officially supplies 30 percent of national needs, a figure that has changed given the temporary halt of 52 of Japan`s 54 nuclear reactors.