Japan Considering 21 Geothermal Plans After Fukushima, METI Says

Japan is considering at least 21 geothermal projects as it searches for alternative energy sources after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Incentives for clean energy, including above-market rates for power derived from underground sources regardless of plant size, are encouraging the projects, Shinichiro Fukushima, an official in charge of geothermal energy at the ministry, said at a briefing in Tokyo today. The 21 possible projects include seven where small-sized binary turbines may be used, he said.

Before Fukushima and the beginning of the incentive program in July, Japan’s geothermal power development was mainly comprised of large-scale projects concentrated in the Hokkaido and Tohoku regions in northern Japan as well as the southern island of Kyushu, Fukushima said.

“Even very small projects are now worth the cost with the introduction of feed-in tariffs,” he said.

Japan has 17 geothermal plants currently in operation with a total capacity of 520 megawatts, according to the ministry. The 21 projects now under consideration are at different stages of research, Fukushima said.

Officials are conducting studies to determine the capacity for the projects, according to the ministry.

The feed-in tariff for geothermal is 27.3 yen per kilowatt hour for plants with capacity of 15,000 kilowatts or larger, and 42 yen for smaller plants, both for 15 years.

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