Nuclear energy could be over. Could the Rising Sun be the answer to Japans power crisis?
The earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011 seriously disrupted Japans reliance on nuclear energy to power the small but populated country. Fukushima came so close to complete disaster that Japan was forced into rethinking the way in which they powered the cities and townships. Japan took steps to alternative power sources relatively swiftly, the government closed (Temporarily) all 50 nuclear power stations between 2011 and 2013, but the plan to get the majority of them up and running again has now begun.
Though the deviance back to nuclear power is viewed in a perhaps slightly negative light by some, the Japanese Government is still hoping to achieve 25% renewable energy by 2030, which is more than most countries are committed to as of the date of this article.
The Japanese Government decided to invest serious amounts of capital into solar power. The risk was low, and the gains high, and of course, there was no danger to the public should such a terrible disaster strike again. Perhaps I should elaborate on the "serious" amounts invested. $270 million dollars on what will be one super sized solar power plant, boasting an impressive 1.27 million squared solar park. That's 290'000 solar panels powering 22'000 homes! Talk about energy production on a large scale, that is literally setting the standard for other countries to follow, particularly those that are relying on nuclear energy in areas of high risk due to geographic location. Production started in September 2012.
Prior to 2011 the solar power market for Japanese residents was significantly hindered by the fact that solar power systems were far more expensive than what we might pay here in New Zealand. There were several factors that contributed to this; such as their dependence on using mostly Japanese built solar panel materials, premium products rather than standard issue parts and products, high labour costs for installation and high exchange rates. Couple this with the fact that there was only a very small amount of solar specialists in the country at that time made it increasingly difficult for the average household to pursue a solar power alternative to being powered by the grid. Most homes, if lucky enough, would acquire solar panel systems upon being built. Post earthquake and Tsunami, there is large-scale residential building taking place. Eco homes are very popular within the now growing Japanese building market, as is the want and need for solar powered homes to not only create efficiency but to be as green and eco friendly as possible. Because of the large-scale building taking place in Japan and the popularity of building eco homes pre built with Solar panels ready to go, the prices in the solar power markets in Japan is decreasing significantly. This decrease in pricing has allowed for more retro fitting company's to become established, and we are now seeing a rise in existing homes being fitted with solar panels.
Japan is truly making a bold statement and being pro active in becoming a world leader in solar power generation, if you need an example, just Google search "Japan moon solar"...Far fetched? Perhaps. But it is that kind of thinking that shows the ways in which we can really take the solar ball and run with it.