Fukushima Aims for a Renewable Energy Future

On March 11, 2011, the Great Tōhoku Earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded in Japan, triggered a powerful tsunami that reached up to 10km inland, killing over 18,000 people and triggering the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Nine years later, Fukushima is fighting back by establishing itself as a renewable energy hub with 2.75 billion USD invested in making the region’s energy supply 100% renewable by 2040.

Photo by Rikako Matsuoka on Unsplash

Japan’s Energy Mix

From 1995 to 2011, nuclear power accounted for around one-third of the Japanese energy mix. However, this plummeted to 1.7% in 2012. Following the disaster, all nuclear reactors in Japan were shut down and there now remain only 9 currently operating, all of which under extremely stringent safety demands and amidst popular opposition to nuclear power. The Japanese government has had to explore new solutions to meet their energy requirements. For the most part, this has led to energy-saving efforts, natural gas-fired thermal power plants, coal, and renewable energy.

Source: US Energy Information Administration

Fukushima leading the way

Fukushima was the most hard-hit region from the aftereffects of the nuclear meltdown. However, it is now leading the way on renewables, providing the most ambitious plans for renewable energy generation in Japan. What is more, the transformation is not only being brought from the top-down — with large groups such as the Development Bank of Japan and Mizuho Bank mobilizing 2.75 billion USD in investments — but is also gaining widespread support by local residents, 54% of which declared (in a 2017 prefecture survey) that they wanted renewable energy.

Creating opportunity out of disaster

On this year’s anniversary of the disaster, it is hard not to ignore the widespread Covid-19 crisis as memorial events across Japan were either scaled-down or canceled.

Euro-Mediterranean Center on #ClimateChange: integrated, multi-disciplinary and frontier research on climate science and policy.

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