Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Can Solar Power Save Japan?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 15, 2011

This sounds interesting:

Billionaire Masayoshi Son has a track record in taking on monopolies after building a business that opened up the nation’s telecommunications industry. Now he aims to shake up Japan’s power utilities after the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

Son, the 53-year-old chief executive officer of Softbank Corp. (9984), plans to build solar farms to generate electricity with support from at least 33 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. In return, he’s asking for access to transmission networks owned by the 10 regional utilities and an agreement they buy his electricity.

Radiation has spread across at least 600 square kilometers (230 square miles) in northeastern Japan after the March 11
earthquake and tsunami caused reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in May he will rethink a plan to increase atomic power to 50 percent of the nation’s total from 30 percent. Renewable energy accounts for 10 percent, according to Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, and Son wants that ratio to be tripled by 2020.

Sounds a bit like T. Boone Pickens’abortive scheme to get people to pay for his transmission lines and buy his natural gas in exchange for a few windfarms. But who knows?

4 Responses to “Can Solar Power Save Japan?”

  1. Charles II said

    No. Not like T. Boone Pickens.

    IMO, Japan has made the decision to abandon nuclear and go to renewables. I predict they will do it faster and go farther than the targets listed in your excerpt. I predict that China will do likewise.

    Now, how they go about it is another question. Solar farms sounds like a bad idea in Asia: too land intensive.. although, of course, they have an entire prefecture where land will be pretty cheap. Better to use the German rooftop model, I think. Also, wave and wind energy.

    When Japan changes direction, it’s a wonder to watch. There isn’t the kind of battling that goes on in the US. They just… decide.

    • Phoenix Woman said

      “When Japan changes direction, it’s a wonder to watch. There isn’t the kind of battling that goes on in the US. They just… decide.”

      True. They went from feudal state to full-on industrialized nation in the space of two decades in the wake of Commodore Perry’s invasion. They also went from being an utterly walled-off nation to being one of the best places for Victorian tourists, particularly cyclists, to visit.

  2. Cecile said

    I don’t think Japan really has a choice. After what happened, Japanese people don’t want to see their country relying on nuclear energy any more, which is completely understandable. It’s a good thing China is aware this could also happen to them and are changing their energy policy while other countries don’t really care…such a pity, we don’t and we’ll never control the elements.

    • Charles II said

      Japan has a deeply corrupt government, Cecile. Part of the legacy of American occupation is that their left wing–the portion of the polity (or in American terms, the Madisonian faction) that defends against corporate power–was destroyed, and the country left in the hands of the zaibatsu who started the war.

      Separately, please do not link to commercial sites. No matter how good the cause, it’s not an appropriate use of a non-commercial discussion board.

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