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03/12/2012 02:49 PM     print story email story  

After Japan's Disaster, How Will They Rebuild? News

Japan is experimenting with new forms of energy and planning a year after the tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

Floating Wind Farm Approved

A consortium has approval for the world's first floating wind farm in tsunami-ravaged Fukushima prefecture. If it's successful, they hope to export the technology and turn the area into a hub.

Construction starts this year on three floating turbines (16 megawatts (MW), which are scheduled to come online in March 2016.

Japan-based Marubeni, Mitsubishi Heavy, Nippon Steel and Hitachi are consortium members and are backed by the government's Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry.

All but one of Japan's 1,742 wind turbines survived the earthquake, because the country requires thicker steel to counter those risks.

A nearby city, Iwanuma, is close to choosing a contractor to build a 15 MW solar plant on farmland destroyed by salt water intrusion from the tsunami. The $62 million plant would come online this year.

How to Rebuild Devastated Communities

Several communities want to build energy-efficient "future cities." 

Ofunato, Rikuzentakata and Sumida Kesen are considering a plan to run completely on solar and wind using batteries for energy storage, according to Voice of America.

The ambitious plan would provide enough electricity to supply local demand as well as creating new industries. That combined with innovative green building would create a disaster resistant community, using debris from the disaster.

"We will make the reconstructed area a model for the rest of Japan. We will do everything we can to promote 'smart cities' and build a sustainable, low-carbon society in the region," writes Takeshi Maeda, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, in a recent editorial.

Draft plans include recycling disaster debris to make tsunami barriers or artificial hills, installing solar panels on new homes, farming seaweed to make biofuel, and designing compact, walkable communities, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

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