Japan, the island nation with nearly a tenth of the world’s active volcanoes, may soon see a resurgence in geothermal power. For the first time in 20 years, several Japanese companies have announced plans to build new geothermal power plants, Reuters reported on Monday.
Reuters quoted the Nikkei business daily when it said that Mitsubishi Materials Corp., Electric Power Development Co. (J-Power), Nittetsu Mining Co. Ltd., and Kyushu Electric Power Co. announced planned investments in new geothermal projects. The daily also said that Japan’s government will increase its support for geothermal power station development.
According to Reuters, Mitsubishi Materials and J-Power will invest about $433.9 million to build a geothermal power plant in Yuzawa, Akita Prefecture, northern Japan. The facility could generate up to 60 MW of power and could begin operations by 2016.
Japan already has 18 geothermal power stations, but these produce only about 530 MW—about 0.2% of Japan’s generated power. The country, which lacks other fuel resources, has the potential to produce 20,540 MW of geothermal power, or about 7.5% of Japan’s total energy requirement, according to the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry.
According to a September Bloomberg story, geothermal power developers in Japan have met stiff opposition from owners of the thousands of hot springs resorts in the country. The owners fear that baths could dry up, damaging an industry that attracted 137 million bathers last year, the agency said.
Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg