Japans hunt for renewable energy sources that can replace the loss of its nuclear power sector continues. Since the recent announcement of feed in tariffs, the capacity of solar installations has grown rapidly, and now another renewable energy source could see a similar growth in popularity.
According to the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan has the third largest geothermal potential in the world, one of the benefits of being situated on an active fault line, but 80% of that potential exists within protected national parks.
In the spring the Japanese government relaxed restrictions regarding geothermal energy within its national parks, and now one project is being developed at the Tsuchiyu Onsen hot spring in Fukushima City. Current plans are for a 500 kilowatt plant, with potential for expansion to 1 megawatt at a later date.
By Autumn the plant is expected to be up and running, using a binary cycle method to extract heat from hot spring water and use it to evaporate a liquid with a low boiling temperature, the steam will then drive a turbine.
The project is only small, but it also only a start. If geothermal projects become more popular within Japan, it could help to provide a considerable amount of the power capacity lost from nuclear power. Japan currently only has 18 geothermal plants up and running, providing just 0.2 percent of the nation’s energy supply.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com