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A New Hub for Solar Tech Blooms in Japan | NG

What appears to be an array of metal flower petals is not an art installation but part of a cutting-edge solar-power system meant to address the critical power shortage Japan now faces in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The disaster, which triggered a crippling nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, reignited worldwide debate about the safety of nuclear power and forced Japan to reevaluate its energy strategy.

Of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors, 52 have been shut down for maintenance; the remaining two are set to go offline this spring. The reactors are likely to remain inoperative while Japan’s central and local governments assess which (if any) of them can be restarted, leaving the country to make up for a 30-percent loss in power generation.

Rising electricity prices and limited supply threaten to hamper the recovery for manufacturers. So it makes sense that Solar Techno Park, the first solar-power research facility focusing on multiple technologies in Japan, is operated not by the government but by a unit of the Tokyo-based JFE, the world’s fifth-largest steelmaker. Given the energy-intensive nature of steel production, reliable power will be key to the future of Japan’s steel industry. The facility, which opened in October last year, is developing advanced technology in solar light and thermal power generation that it aims to apply both in Japan and overseas.

The Torresol Energy Gemasolar thermasolar plant in Fuentes de Andalucia near Seville, southern Spain […] is the first commercial-scale plant to apply central tower receiver and molten salt heat storage technology. The annual production of Gemasolar (110GWhe) is the equivalent of the energy generated in a conventional thermal plant burning 89,000 tons of lignite or the converted energy of 217,000 oil barrels. Therefore, the plant is expected to save more than 30,000 tonnes of CO2 emission a year.

©2011 Kateoplis