Japan on a quest to sidestep nuclear
Still rattled by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the country’s focus is now on renewable energy, writes Carol Paton
After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, which was followed by a tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear power accident, Katsuichi Kato wanted to save his town. A hamlet tucked away in fern-and forest-covered hills, Tsuchiyu was dependent on tourism, centred on natural hot springs, which gave the stream that flows through the town its lovely aquamarine colour. Although the destruction wrought by the earthquake was swiftly fixed, Tsuchiyu was stigmatised as a prefecture contaminated by radiation. Kato, an entrepreneur who owned an hotel and then established a retirement home in the village, hit upon a great idea. After the three-day blackout that followed the quake, he began investigating whether the spring water could generate electricity. He now owns a binary power plant that produces 350kW through a combination of the 350°C spring water and the chemical pentam in an almost emission-free process. He called his company Genki Up Tsuchiya (Cheer up Tsuchiyu). "We had a sense of crisis...