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.
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.
WONSAN, NORTH KOREA – In the turbine hall at North Korea's Wonsan No. 5 hydropower station, a placard mounted on a wall proclaims: "Prosperous and Powerful Nation." But when it comes to electricity the North is anything but. The country has made rapid progress in its weapons program under leader Kim Jong Un, detonating what it said was a hydrogen bomb last month and launching intercontinental missiles that apparently bring much of the U.S. mainland into range. However, nearly 70 years after it was founded, the North suffers from perennial energy shortages, epitomized by satellite photos of the country at night, showing it as a largely dark quadrilateral between the bright lights of China and South Korea. Pyongyang is unusually dim for a capital city, the pale glow emerging from apartments often outshone by the moon.
Global energy demand and related carbon emissions both rose again in 2018, according to new figures out this week. This comes as no surprise. The analysis from the International Energy Agency is in line with other preliminary reports from other organizations. But it raises an awkward question: if renewables are growing and the prices of solar, wind, and batteries are falling, why is the world's climate pollution still going up? The first answer is the growing global economy, which pushed energy demand up by 2.3% last year, the IEA says.