12 April 2011

The Path from Fukushima: rebuilding Japan

Reconstructing Japan's energy sector using renewable energy and efficiency technology will be cheaper, faster, cleaner, and more resilient than traditional thermal and nuclear power plants, researchers from RMIT University and the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability have found.

Renewable energy

The report finds Japan’s energy needs could be met two to three years faster using renewable energy and efficiency technologies.

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The researchers have found Japan's energy needs could be met two to three years faster if the focus was shifted away from nuclear and thermal power.

The findings are detailed in their report, The Path from Fukushima: Short and Medium-term Impacts of the Reactor Damage Caused by the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on Japan's Electricity System.

Professor Peter Hayes, from RMIT's School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, and Dr Richard Tanter, Senior Research Associate at the Nautilus Institute, worked with a team of researchers from Australia, Japan, the United States, China and Korea on the report.

The research report uses a quantitative model of the Japanese energy sector to examine the costs of rebuilding using energy efficient technology, renewable energy sources and distributed power generation compared with using centralised gas and nuclear power plants.

Professor Hayes said the Japanese government faced a strategic choice in how it responded to the Fukushima crisis.

"Our research finds that the efficient-renewable-distributed energy scenario can be deployed very rapidly and will start to save power immediately," Professor Hayes, who is Professor of International Relations at RMIT, said.

"The alternative - even if fast tracked - will take two to three years longer to implement and meet consumer demand.

"This unmet demand will increase the cost of energy in Japan, making the centralised nuclear and thermal power option more expensive than the energy efficient alternative."

The report finds rebuilding using green technology and renewable energy would cost less by avoiding the price hikes associated with unmet demand and reduce CO2 emissions in Japan by 50 per cent.

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