The forces that make Japan one of the world’s most quake-prone and volcanic countries, and sparked a nuclear disaster, could become part of its long-term energy solution, experts say.
Steam and hot water billow and gush from deep below the ground at Japan’s tens of thousands of famed hot springs and could be harnessed to drive turbines that generate electricity in a clean, safe and stable way, they say.
Although Japanese high-tech companies are leaders in geothermal technology and export it, its use is miniscule in the island nation, which has for decades relied heavily on imported fossil fuels and atomic power.
Japan’s parliament passed a law Friday to promote renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal by forcing power utilities to buy it at fixed prices and letting them pass extra costs onto consumers.
“Japan should no doubt make use of its volcano, magma and other geothermal energy,” said Yoshiyasu Takefuji, professor of Tokyo’s Keio University and a prominent researcher of thermal-electric power generation.
“The March 11 disaster caused a lot of sadness, but it has also changed people’s thinking about energy.”