Japan needs to find an alternative to nuclear energy, and it needs to do so in a hurry. The Japanese energy mix has been in a serious state of flux since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, after which Japan shut down all 54 of the nation’s nuclear reactors as they awaited the prescription of newer, stricter safety standards. Since then, nuclear power has not made a great comeback in Japan. Yes, some (but certainly not all) of the nuclear reactors were eventually brought back online, but the Japanese public, to a large degree, no longer trusts or supports nuclear energy. Headlines this month will only serve to exacerbate the issue, with Japan’s environment minister announcing that the government will likely have to dump massive quantities of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear site into the Pacific ocean. That environment minister has now been replaced with a predecessor who says that Japan will need to walk away from nuclear entirely. Without being able to count on nuclear energy, Japan has scrambled for alternative resources like natural gas and coal, but these heavily polluting resources compromise Japan’s pledge to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Now, more than eight years after the Fukushima disaster, Japan may finally have found its solution to a greener energy future. Japan ranks third in the world for geothermal resources, according to data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, with the United States and Indonesia occupying the number one and number two slots. Now the Japanese government wants to help harness those geothermal power resources (which is sourced from underground heat produced by Japan’s volcanoes) for their energy mix.
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