Summary: Japan is generating more renewable energy and exploring ways to reduce consumption. We see a steel factory completely powered by wind and solar power during the daytime.
While touring around Toyohashi, we saw large solar arrays and windmills. From our Wind City Hotel, we could see a Tokyo Steel factory with multiple wind turbines and a large field of solar panels. I was surprised to see they were all on the ground, since land is a precious commodity in Japan.
When our hosts drove us to the top of Mt. Zao, we were afforded a commanding, panoramic view of Atsumi Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the Atsumi Peninsula. We could also see our hotel, the steel factory, and the windmills and solar panels.
Exhibits in the visitors building atop Mt. Zao showed the locations of the solar arrays and windmills, as well as kilowatts generated. My limited knowledge of Japanese and power generation prevented me from comprehending the numbers, but our hosts told us that the steel factory is completely powered by wind and solar during the day.
And it appears that additional fields of solar panels are planned for the future. It was inspirational to see! And just today I read an article about how one of the American Samoa Islands, previously 100% dependent on diesel power, is now 100% solar powered.
One exhibit showed some beautiful lighting solutions that used LED instead of incandescent or fluorescent lights. It was a good reminder that energy conservation can be implemented immediately while large windmills and solar panels take time and capital to implement.
Another fun interactive exhibit projected undersea creatures on the floor. As you walked around, some fishes swam away, while others were attracted to you. One wall was covered with leaves, and as you waved in front of the wall, flowers bloomed and strawberries appeared. I can imagine these exhibits can entertain children for a long time.
While debates rage over extraction, transportation, refining, and burning of petroleum products, this visit provided a glimpse of what is possible today in terms of renewable power and energy conservation. The Japanese have already had to make do with precious little space and resources, and they continue to innovate.