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.