FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN— This prefecture, which is home to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, is making significant progress toward its goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.
According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s power research statistics, Fukushima Prefecture ranked first among all prefectures in solar power generation capability last April, and eighth in wind power generation.
The success of the disaster-affected area’s green initiatives may help predict the future of Japan’s renewable energy policies. The coastline of the prefecture’s Minami-Soma, which was engulfed by a massive tsunami on March 11, 2011, is now dotted with windmills and solar power panels.
A year after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster, then-Fukushima governor Yuhei Sato declared that the prefecture would aim to build a society capable of continuing to develop without relying on energy from nuclear power by promoting renewable energies.
He then set a goal of using renewable energy to generate all of the energy consumed in the prefecture by 2040. A nationwide system has been established in which major electric power companies buy renewable energy at a fixed rate, while a subsidized program has been established for Fukushima Prefecture.
Fukushima started working on renewable energy by expanding solar power generation throughout the prefecture, installing solar panels on house roofs, former golf course sites, and other locations.
As of fiscal 2019, Fukushima’s various renewable energy sources, including water power generation, accounted for 35% of total energy production. The prefecture is also attempting to boost the ratio by promoting wind power.
Because the Abukuma Highlands in the prefecture’s east have strong winds, companies building windmills in the area have received significant financial support to use them and connect them to existing power lines.
Windmills are being built in a frenzy. According to The Asahi Shimbun’s estimate based on related documents, they will generate between 800,000 and 1.6 million kilowatts of power.
If a single windmill can generate 2,700 kilowatts, that means 300 to 600 windmills will be built in the future. Around 20 companies from within and outside the prefecture are planning to form a general incorporated association to receive orders for windmill maintenance.
Some of the companies in charge of the project have previously worked in nuclear power generation.