But grid connection issues, investment costs and a government policy that still favors investment in other energy sources -- especially nuclear -- continue to present challenges to researchers, businesses and Fukushima policymakers with an interest in renewable energy. In 2014, the prefecture announced it was aiming to have renewables supply 40 percent of its energy demand by 2020, two-thirds by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040. As of April 2017, renewable energy accounted for 28 percent of the prefecture's energy needs and about 60 percent of its electricity consumption. Fukushima's installed capacity in renewables, excluding large-scale hydropower, had reached nearly 1.4 gigawatts by early 2017, equivalent to one large nuclear reactor. This included 925 MW of solar power, 209 MW of biomass and 174 MW of wind, with small shares for geothermal (65 MW) and small-scale hydro (17 MW).
President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement on June 1, 2017, and exactly a year later, also directed his administration to take steps that would prevent the closure of coal and nuclear power plants in the country. Meanwhile, the production of U.S. shale is at record highs (the price of gasoline in the domestic market is also at its highest in several years) and crude oil production heavyweights, like Russia and the Saudi Arabia-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are also mulling increasing their output. Despite the virtual stranglehold on global production of crude oil by OPEC and Russia, and the pursuit of environmentally-unfriendly policies by the Trump administration, a new study found there is an economic "carbon bubble" forming, one that could lead to the sudden loss of up to $4 trillion in the global economy by 2035, mostly accounted for by "stranded" fossil fuel stockpiles. Economists and policy experts from Cambridge and the Open universities in the United Kingdom, Radboud University in the Netherlands, Macau University, and Cambridge Econometrics ran detailed simulations that showed technological changes in the energy and transport industries would lead to a significant decline in the global demand for fossil fuels in the coming years. This change in the near future would occur even if major nations did not adopt climate-friendly energy policies, leading to a slump in fossil fuel prices and stocks of associated companies.
The event was organized by peace advocacy organizations including the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2017. There are few things in this world that have the capability to destroy as much as a nuclear bomb. While history looks back on the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with horror, it's vital to remember that, in terms of energy yields, these fission bombs were less than 0.1% as powerful as modern hydrogen bombs. During the 21st century, North Korea has performed five separate nuclear tests, all verified by the incontrovertible science of seismology. The most recent, in 2017, yielded enough energy to kill more than 2 million people if it were detonated in a populous area like Seoul, South Korea.
Earlier this month, Kyodo News surveyed 44 companies that started selling electricity to consumers after the energy market was liberalized in April 2016. More than 60 percent of respondents objected to the government's plan to make them share in costs associated with compensating victims of the Fukushima nuclear crisis and the related cleanup. Since industry data shows that only 5.5 percent of Japanese households have opted to leave regional utilities for alternative suppliers, it seems doubtful that the objecting companies will persuade the government to change its mind. These figures illustrate how regional power monopolies have swayed the public, as well as the government's role in helping them do so. The media has also had a hand in maintaining the status quo.
Farmland in Fukushima that was rendered unusable after the disastrous 2011 nuclear meltdown is getting a second chance at productivity. A group of Japanese investors have created a new plan to use the abandoned land to build wind and solar power plants, to be used to send electricity to Tokyo. The plan calls for the construction of eleven solar power plants and ten wind power plants, at an estimated cost of $2.75 billion. Fukushima has been aggressively converting land damaged by the 2011 meltdown, such as this golf course (pictured above) into a source of renewable energy. A new $2.75 billion plan will add eleven new solar plants and ten wind power plants to former farmland The project is expected to be completed in March of 2024 and is backed by a group of investors, including Development Bank of Japan and Mizuho Bank.