After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan got serious about investing in renewable energy, becoming one of the world leaders in solar power. But the nation faced a problem in its solar efforts: a lack of suitable land.
In a promising solution, the country is now turning to floating solar power stations, this month going live with its largest such systems to date in two reservoirs in Kato City in the nation’s Hyogo prefecture, Quartz reports. The systems consist of almost 9,000 solar panels on a bed of polyethylene and are fully waterproofed.
According to Kyocera, the electronics manufacturer behind the floating solar systems, the two new stations in Kato City are expected to generate 3,300 megawatt hours annually, providing enough electricity to power about 920 typical households. The company is also behind another floating solar farm just east of Tokyo, slated to open next March, that will be even larger, powering almost 5,000 households.
The “mega-plants” have a number of benefits compared to traditional land-based solar plants. As Wired previously reported, the floating plants generate power more efficiently because of the cooling effect of the water underneath the system. In addition, the shade generated by the stations helps reduce both water evaporation and algae growth, and the systems overall are also drought-friendly thanks to how muchwater they conserve.
There are some concerns, too, such as how the structures will be able to withstand natural disasters. According to the National Geographic, however, the systems were found to withstand hurricane-speed winds up to 118 miles per hour in testing at Onera, France’s aerospace lab. In addition, the systems have been described as earthquake-proof. But they also can be costlier to install and maintain than traditional solar systems.
Still, Kyocera argues that the floating islands could play a huge role in helping Japan meet its goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2040.
“[T]he country has many reservoirs for agricultural and flood-control purposes,” Ichiro Ikeda, a Kyocera spokesman, told the National Geographic. “There is great potential in carrying out solar power generation on these water surfaces.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story described the Japanese stations as “offshore.” Because they are located in ponds or reservoirs, this was inaccurate.
The Royal Town Planning Institute has written to the Chancellor arguing against any further cuts in local authority funding and urging an increase in planning fees.
The letter, sent in advance of Osborne’s promised July budget, highlighted that local authority planning and development services have experienced the largest cuts of any local government service area since 2010.
According to the Local Government Association, by 2015/16 core funding for local government will have been reduced by 40 per cent and further reductions are anticipated.
RTPI president Janet Askew said: “We have written to the Chancellor to impress upon him that in order for us to meet our national objectives increasing capacity in local authority planning teams is an urgent priority and cannot be avoided if the government expects to deliver on its ambitious programme.
“In his July budget, we are also calling for a national rise in planning fees in line…
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This planning permission should never have been allowed. 100,000 OBJECTIONS and they still pass it?!
Lancashire County Council planners have recommended that test fracking should be allowed at one of two sites on the Fylde coast.
This follows applications from energy company Cuadrilla to use fracking to extract shale gas at Little Plumpton and Roseacre Wood.
The application for Little Plumpton has been recommended for approval. Roseacre Wood has been recommended for refusal because of the impact on road safety caused by increased lorry traffic.
If approved it would be the first time a planning authority has backed an application to frack, drill and test flow the gas and the first fracking since tests near Blackpool in 2011 which caused small earth tremors.
In a separate but related development, the Environment Agency is consulting on environmental permits to allow Third Energy to carry out test-fracking at a site near the village of Kirby Misperton in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. A planning application is due to be…
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We are entering a new age of Victoriana, where cities, bereft of Government spending and failed by national energy policy, are returning to their roles of municipal leadership and investing in the infrastructure they need to serve not only voters in homes but those businesses that generate the ever important business rates.
In the past 10 days, we have seen announcements about investments in local energy generation at a significant scale in Sheffield, in Nottingham and in Stoke. The drivers for this are many – it is not simply a carbon issue, nor is it solely an energy security issue. Nor is it just a revenue generating exercise or an investment in crucial business infrastructure. In fact, it’s all of these things – and more.
Whilst government debates whether nuclear is really our only solution for power and how fracking is our only solution for gas, there has…
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Philip Smith Lawrence