Even though it goes against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s agenda to reboot nuclear power throughout Japan, the province of Fukushima has pledged to go 100 percent renewable by 2040. The announcement was made at a Community Power Conference held last week in the Northeastern province. The plans will require the cooperation of Fukushima prefecture’s two million residents to generate energy from various renewable energy projects and community initiatives.
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“Local government like the Fukushima prefecture or the Tokyo metropolitan government are much more active, more progressive compared to the national government, which is occupied by the industry people,” said Tetsunari Iida, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies in Japan. The province is currently planning the launch of two 7 megawatt wind turbines, which will bolster the 2 megawatt offshore wind energy project that went into operation late last year.
Solar power will also play a big part in the sustainability plans, but Stefan Schurig, Director of the Climate and Energy Department of the World Future Council, explained at the conference in Fukushima that “There’s still a long way to go in Japan because the official government position is still very pro-nuclear, so it would be naïve to say this is an easy way, that we just need to set an example and other regions will follow.”
The amount of coverage that the nuclear disaster has received over the past few years should be evidence enough that while nuclear power may have some advantages, it can also quite easily turn into an outright catastrophe that lasts for decades. A 2013 survey mirrors this sentiment, which found that 53 percent of Japanese people want to see nuclear power phased out gradually, and 23 percent want to get rid of it immediately.
As for Fukushima’s grand ambitions, a Renewable Energy Village (REV) with 120 solar panels and wind turbines on contaminated farmland surrounding the power plant would set a perfect example for the rest of the nation. If more REVs can be established within the region, the cumulative effects would quickly push Fukushima towards its goal, and hopefully steer Japan away from a nuclear future in the process.