Ambitious renewable energy project takes root in Japan

January 10, 2014 0 By Alicia Moore
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Japanese farmers may benefit from new project

Solar Energy Project - MinamisomaA new renewable energy project has taken root in the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan. The prefecture has become somewhat notorious due to the impact of a major earthquake and tsunami in early 2011. The disaster sparked a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which went on to become one of the worst nuclear crises in human history. The renewable energy project aims to resolve the issues spawned by the nuclear disaster by harnessing the power of the sun.

Project aims to aid farmers by giving them access to solar energy

The project is being managed by the city of Minamisoma, which has planted 120 solar panels in farmland that was abandoned during the nuclear disaster. Together, these solar panels are currently producing approximately 30 kilowatts of electrical power. Crops are growing beneath the elevated panels and the project aims to help farming communities restart their agriculture business and earn additional profits through the sale of renewable power.

Selling electricity may help farmers find stability

Japan is home to one of the most aggressive solar energy feed-in tariffs in the world. Those that generate a surplus of clean energy from solar installations can sell this electrical power to Japanese utilities, which will then pump this energy into the country’s energy grid. Because some of the farmland in Fukushima is contaminated, farmers will not be able to sell produce grown on such land, but they will be able to sell electricity that is generated by the solar panels that are installed on contaminated land.

Similar projects may emerge in the future

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, many farmers were left without work. Japan’s agriculture business suffered in the months following the disaster, but this new project may be able to provide some financial cushion for exiled farmers. The project itself is currently small and community-driven, but similar projects may soon emerge throughout the country as farmers look for ways to make a living.