Mon, May 07, 2012 - Page 9 News List

Crisis-hit Japan mulls shift to renewable energy

Government inertia, vested interests and technical hurdles are slowing down a renewable energy boom, but many in the field feel that despite this, Japan is on the cusp of a revolution

By Elaine Kurtenbach and Mari Yamaguchi  /  AP, TOKYO

Most renewable initiatives remain piecemeal, such as a “smart community” plan for Kamaishi, a tsunami-hit city planning to rebuild as an eco-town powered by solar, wind and other renewable energy.

Unlike a European country such as Denmark, which has pledged to shift entirely to renewable energy by 2050, Japan is an island isolated from neighboring countries. An Asian “super grid” proposed by Son that would link Japan to mainland Asia, and massive wind power capacity in the Gobi desert, would take years and could prove prohibitively expensive.

Even Son concedes that renewable energy is going to serve only a small percentage of electricity demand over the next few years.

“The point is to change components of the energy mix 10, 20 or 50 years from now,” he said.

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