|Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World|
Japan now has a major incentive to adopt energy efficiency measures and install renewable energy systems which is what Mark wanted to explore with his book Japan's Tipping Point. He does a great job of detailing the sustainability initiatives that have been promoted in different parts of Japan and providing commentary on their efficacy. Despite major structural reasons to the contrary, the Japanese seem to continue thinking in a pre-Fukushima way. The conclusion you become forced to consider is that they might not make the leap to the next generation of power infrastructure anytime soon.
I worked for a Japanese company (SANYO) a couple of years ago, based in the US to develop solar energy projects with their solar modules. At the time, SANYO was the 7th largest manufacturer of solar photovoltaic modules and had the most efficient panel that was commercially available. I was brought on as the solar leader of a new organization called the US Environmental Solutions Division. The stated purpose of this division was to bundle various SANYO products with a clean energy focus together as a total solution sale. It sounded like a great initiative at the time but ended up appearing to be more of a PR exercise to make SANYO branded products more attractive during its acquisition by Panasonic. While I spearheaded a couple interesting projects like a solar charging station in Portland, OR, there was not much appetite for significant solar market development plans.
|OMSI solar electric vehicle charging station for e-bikes and e-cars in Portland, OR|
So what lessons does this teach us in the US? As I've written before, Americans are cursed with substantial fossil fuel resources under our own soil. With the Japanese being "blessed" with paltry resources and still unable to take decisive action towards renewable energy, things don't look so great for renewable energy in the US anytime soon. The Japanese are not alone in their resistance to change with respect to energy. The US with a population of almost 2.5 times that of Japan has about the same amount of installed solar PV. US leaders continue to talk about nuclear as the hope for the future despite the obvious safety and economic troubles with it and despite no practical hope for new reactor additions anytime soon. Wind farms get rejected for aesthetic reasons while coal continues to be our primary fuel source for electricity.
|Bike & electronics charging solar canopy (concept)|