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After Fukushima, Japan Reconsiders Geothermal Power

After Fukushima, Japan Reconsiders Geothermal Power

Today it was discovered that damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant was much worse than expected, and water is leaking out of the No. 1 reactor. This will likely upset officials’ six month timeline for bringing the plant under control.

In the wake of this nuclear crisis, some energy experts in Japan say it’s time to pursue the country’s vast and much safer geothermal stores.

Japan ranks eighth in the world for installed geothermal capacity with about 540 MW already producing power and third for untapped potential, according to the 2010 Geothermal Congress at Bali, Indonesia.

Currently, Japan is home to 18 geothermal power plants, eight of which are located in the Sendai region, which was severely affected by the quake and tsunami. Despite their close proximity, media reports say only four of the plants experienced any interruption in operation during the tsunami, and it was quickly rectified.

Geothermal has an average capacity factor (how often the power plant runs) of about 73 percent though some have been recorded as high as 98 percent. And as Care2′s Jasmine Greene reports, it’s not just the capacity factor that makes geothermal very attractive, but the fact that this energy source alone could potentially power the entire world.

Another attractive quality of geothermal is its lack of risk to public safety.

“If there is a major natural disaster, the main damage (to geothermal plants) will be to the pipelines carrying hot water,” D. Chandrasekharam, an earth sciences professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay told Renewable Energy World. “That’s much easier to control than radiation.”

Despite its potential for producing clean energy, geothermal has been approached cautiously by Japanese industry. One reason for this is that hot springs are considered sacred by the culture, and people don’t like to see them exploited.

Related Reading:

Why Geothermal, Why Now?

Illinois Walgreens Converts To Geothermal Energy

Fukushima 50 Fight On Despite Dangerously High Radiation Levels

Japanese Officials Request Closure Of Three Nuclear Reactors

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Image Credit: Flickr - mdid

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73 comments

+ add your own
9:34AM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

Yes!!! Yeah for geothermal power!

7:08AM PDT on Sep 11, 2011

good news

7:48PM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

YA THINK

6:00AM PDT on Jul 5, 2011

Anything is safer than nuclear!!

7:05PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

JAPAN IS SMART; IT DOES NOT TAKE THEM FOREVER TO LOOK TO ALTERNATIVES AT A GRAND SCALE. NOW IS THE TIME.

5:13AM PDT on May 21, 2011

It sounds like a good idea. Some good may come of the disaster after all. Perhaps other countries will follow suit in revising their nuclear policies and investigating safer, cleaner energy sources.

1:20AM PDT on May 15, 2011

Oh please.... That "sacred" stuff is BS. I lived there and hot spring water was constantly poured on the streets in the winter to keep ice and snow off the streets in towns that had natural hot spring water. They "exploit" the springs all over--it attracts tourists and are very relaxing. They should have been pursuing more geothermal energy a long time ago.

9:04PM PDT on May 14, 2011

Great!!

8:35PM PDT on May 14, 2011

wish that it would have took a little less of a thing to make them consider this.

3:40PM PDT on May 14, 2011

Noted. Thank-you.
"It has become Appallingly obvious that our technology has
exceeded our humanity" ~Albert Einstein
Very Informative site:
http://www.hoanw.org/
https://www.facebook.com/hoanw
(Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State is the most radioactive contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere.)

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