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Japan Seeks Dominance In Global Renewable Energy Race

Jul 6, 2019 | BIZ, GOV, Japan, NEWS, TECH

by Arvin Donguines

Okinawa, Japan – Tim Franklin Photography

by Arvin Donguines

Blessed with a variety of renewable resources like wind, solar, and marine, Japan is now looking to dominate the global renewable energy race. And it starts with an Olympic event.

Natural Endowment

Japan, the island country nestled off the eastern coast of the main Asian continent, isn’t exactly known for its natural resources. Despite sitting along the infamous Pacific Ring of Fire, the Land of the Rising Sun could hardly supply its own need of raw materials like gold, copper and iron, from which they have to import from other countries.

Moreover, Japan produces negligible amount of energy like natural gas, oil, and coal. To keep its industries running and homes warm (so to speak), the country also has to import them. And the need is apparently that huge such that Japan is considered to be the sole largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal in the world. It is, meanwhile, the second-largest buyer of oil.

Japan did try to compensate for what it lacks with nuclear energy but harnessing such power has proven to be too dangerous that the government has to order the shutdown of its reactors in 2011. This situation further pushed Japan to rely more on fossil fuel.

But things are about to change as the country has finally recognized some of its untapped potentials to become a global leader in the use of renewable energy.

Carving A New Niche

Japan’s bold initiative for environmental protection has recently been making waves in the news. It has something to do with its plan to host the first Olympic Games that will be powered by renewable resources only.

In preparation for this global sporting event which will take place next year, Japan’s Olympic organizing committee laid out its strict sustainability code. This set of guidelines basically ensures that all products and services delivered during the Tokyo 2020 Games must come from recycled or reused materials.

For instance, the uniforms to be worn by athletes must be sourced from recycled fabric, an article said.

The place which will house the participants, the Olympic Village, is designed to be built with sustainability in mind. Each room will be powered with biogas and seawater heat pumps. The structure itself will be built using nationally-sourced timber.

These are just but some of the many sustainable plans Japan is hoping to accomplish in 2020 Olympics.

On the industrial side, Japan’s domestic industries are also answering to the country’s call for renewability. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, for example, is now developing systems like the hydrogen liquefier which the company plans to put into market by 2020, a report said. 

This system utilizes an equipment that is capable of liquefying hydrogen, which it does so my cooling the gas to minus 235 degrees Celsius. Some of its immediate application would be in powering up plants and charging fuel cells.

Hydrogen can be easily sourced as it is a common byproduct of certain chemical process abroad.

Japan, through Toyota Motor, meanwhile, has been working closely with Royal Dutch Shell, in carrying out the goals of the Hydrogen Council – a global initiative that seeks to adopt hydrogen energy.

Although the present technology plus the steep cost to carry out the plans are still hampering its development, both governing bodies believe that the first “hydrogen society” could be established as early as 2030.

A Perceived Opportunity

What was once an industrial, cultural, and economic center in Asia, Japan has found itself gradually slipping into the sidelines of the international geopolitical arena.

China, for example, is now going toe-to-toe against the US in terms of trade and commerce. South Korea, meanwhile, dominates the cultural sphere with its K-Pop and K-Dramas. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is even making huge impact in the geopolitical situation, not only in Asia but throughout the world.

Japan’s renewed fervour in implementing initiatives for the use of renewable and sustainable energy is perhaps the country’s way of taking a stab on the opportunity to forge a new geological path.

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