Continued opposition but hope for geothermal development in Japan

Yamagawa geothermal power plant, Japan
Alexander Richter 21 Sep 2015

Projects sized from 20 to 30 MW seem to be the most suitable for japan, but there continue to be some challenges for development in Japan. There is though hope and several power projects planned.

In a presentation on Japan’s current status on development for geothermal mainly talked about the hurdles for geothermal development in Japan.

One of the key elements mentioned is that about 80% of the geothermal energy potential of Japan lies in national parks where no exploration has been allowed and there seems to be a simple “no drillings, no exploration, no research”- policy.

There continues to be some strong opposition by some owners of hot springs, who have lead a strong campaign against geothermal development being afraid of an impact on exploitation on the hot springs.

The initial cost for development is very high and the long lead time prevent the private sector to invest in geothermal development.

For Japan, a geothermal power generation capacity of around 20-30 MW seems to be the most suitable from a sustainability point of view for Japan.

Some of the operators find difficulties in prevention of scale deposition, maintenance of sustainability and treatment of acid fluids.

But there is hope and there are today 24 geothermal power plants with 27 units and an installed capacity of 518 MW. There are 12 areas with 14 units with a size of 10 MW and more. There are 4 units with a size between 1 and 10 MW and 9 units with a size of less than 1 MWe of installed power generation capacity.

There are several projects in Japan sizing with most of the projects of sizes 10 MW and more and below 1 MW. the minority of projects are ranging in size between 1 and 10 MW.

Updated ranking for the Global Top 10 countries for geothermal power capacity