REW: Japan as strong contender in global geothermal growth

Alexander Richter 1 Jun 2015

Is geothermal development gaining momentum in the Far East?

A recent article in Renewable Energy World (REW) suggests that Japan might be the next “hot spot” for geothermal development. Meg Cichon, author of the aforementioned article, states that renewables have seen a significant increase since the Fukushima nuclear accident due to a generous Feed-in tariff scheme by the country’s government (which has focused on solar) and that  “Japan has recently turned toward its abundant reserves of geothermal energy, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) expecting 380 to 850 MW of new installed geothermal capacity by 2030.”

This is certainly great news, and we hope more geothermal projects go online in a near future, but nuclear is also being debated to be brought back online which could halt the development of geothermal.

Nuclear is not the only threat. Most of the geothermal resources lie on national parks or protected areas and with a highly restrictive legislation in place that forbids even small scale exploration, the industry faces some severe hurdles. REW informs that legislative changes are underway since “In 2012, the Ministry of the Environment relaxed the rules for each zone, known as ordinary, special protection (SP) or special class 1, 2 or 3 (S1, S2, or S3). In the past, surface surveys and small-scale development was only allowed in ordinary zones. Now, however, survey work is allowed in SP and S1 zones; small-scale development is allowed in S2 and S3 zones and large-scale development is allowed in ordinary zones.”

Regardless, the industry is keen on developing new projects, invest on geothermal in the near future and keep the incentives in place to make it happen.

Geothermal is a clean energy source with plenty of underused potential in Japan with baseload capabilities that could assist in substituting nuclear power generation.

Source: Renewable Energy World