GOOD

Who Needs Nukes? Japan Plans a Massive Shift to Solar Power

Japanese officials are set to unveil a new "Sunrise Plan" tomorrow, requiring all new buildings to be covered by solar panels by 2030.

The Japanese public is less enthusiastic about nuclear power these days. Responding to the Fukushima crisis and public concerns earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan declared the nation's plans for nuclear power expansion officially dead.


Kan told reporters:

The current basic energy policy envisages that over 50% of total electricity supply will come from nuclear power while 20% will come from renewable power in 2030...But that basic plan needs to be reviewed now from scratch after this big incident.

\n

Currently, 54 nuclear reactors provide nearly one third of the country's electricity, and officials had planned on building at least 14 new reactors by 2030. But with the government now trying to shift away from nuclear power, how will Japan supply itself with energy? Will it be able to meet its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent of 1990 levels by 2020? What’s an outrageously dense island nation with awfully high per capita energy demands to do?

Well, it sounds like the "Land of the Rising Sun" (the characters that make up the name "Japan" spell out "sun-origin") is going to turn its attention back to that bright burning star.

Japanese officials are set to unveil a new "Sunrise Plan" at the G8 meetings tomorrow. The plan would require all new buildings to be covered by solar panels by 2030, and result in 10 million solar powered homes. The solar rooftop goals are just part of a broader initiative to shift the country to clean, renewable energy sources.

The goals are realistic. The Prime Minister isn't promising a total end to nuclear or fossil fuel energy sources, but rather a massive and manageable shift away from them. Right now, solar, wind, hydro, and biomass only provide about 1 percent of the nation's electricity. But Kan says:

Natural and renewable energy needs to be developed and commercially promoted at an accelerated pace. This is what Japan needs and what I plan to pursue.

\n

Kan echoed these remarks earlier today:

We will elevate renewable energy to one of society's core energy sources... We will engage in drastic technological innovation in order to increase the share of renewable energy in total electric power supply up to 20 percent by the earliest possible, in 2020.

\n

Once upon a time, back in the 1980s, Japan was the world's solar leader, a title it shed during its lost decade to European powers like Germany. Given its technological prowess, it's easy to envision Japan as the global leader in solar once again.

Photo by AllVoices

Articles
Pixabay

Two years after its opening in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art acquired a painting by Sarah Miriam Peale — its first work by a female artist. More than a century later, one might assume that the museum would have a fairly equal mix of male and female artists, right? But as of today, only 4% of the 95,000 pieces in the museum's permanent collection were created by women.

The museum is determined to narrow that gap, and they're taking a drastic step to do so.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Alan Levine / Flickr

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they've worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet