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Japan embraces renewable energy as dozens of towns go off-grid

After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, decentralized power systems are quietly growing

Japanese town with solar panels
A road lined with solar panels in Takasaki, Japan.
Photo by Mériol Lehmann/Flickr

With the rise of more and better ways of harvesting energy from renewable sources—not to mention a battery revolution—it should come as no surprise that more and more people are turning to technology to go off-grid. What you might not know is that Japan has been quietly revolutionizing their energy infrastructure to go off grid on a larger scale.

In the last six years, dozens of Japanese towns have worked to decentralize their power generation and storage systems, with many capable of powering themselves for days without sucking power from the conventional grid, Reuters reports.

After the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, the country began rethinking its approach to power on a larger scale. Instead of rebuilding the existing grid, towns began building independent micro-grid systems, often supported by the country’s National Resilience Program, which had $33.32 billion in funding this year.

After losing 75 percent of its homes and 1,100 lives in the earthquake and tsunami, one such town, Higashi Matsushima in the Tohoku region, created a new, self-sustaining power system that can currently produce 25 percent of its energy needs.

“At the time of the Great East Japan earthquake, we couldn’t secure power and had to go through incredible hardships,” said Yusuke Atsumi, a manager of the town’s local grid, tells Reuters. In a conventional system, a “blackout at one area would lead to wide-scale power outages. But the independent distributed micro-grid can sustain power even if the surrounding area is having a blackout.”

Via: Reuters