Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No. 74: Spread of clean generation under the initiative of citizens (August 10, 2011)

Citizens jointly invest in the construction of a natural energy power generation facility. This is the concept of “Citizens cooperative generation facilities (Citizen-funded facility),” and it is attracting attention nationwide. It pays back profits that it gets from selling electricity to electric power companies. After the March 11 disaster, organizations that plan clean generation receive increasing amounts of investments and contributions, and people involved in the projects believe that grass-roots activities will help clean energy spread nationwide.

Citizens of a community in Saitama Prefecture installed photovoltaic panels on the roof of its community building (about 200 square meters) last December. The photovoltaic generation with a maximum capacity of 3.6 kW produces 70% of the power requirements of this building. The president of this community is very happy with the photovoltaic generation because citizens using this building for community activities like dancing class get aware of the importance of electricity.

Sayama Environment Citizen Network took the initiative in the construction of this building. It collected about 900,000 yen from citizens and received subsidies from the prefecture. The building was constructed with a total investment of 2,400,000 yen, and it is designated as an evacuation center of the community. The community office is considering installing photovoltaic panels on other buildings with the profits it gets by selling electricity.

Ohisama (Sunlight) Energy Fund in Tokyo has so far built about 160 citizen-funded generation facilities, and it has been receiving an increasing number of inquiries on investment. It is planning a small hydraulic generation facility in Toyama Prefecture, and it has already received about 700 requests for information on investment, three times more requests before the 3/11. Environment Partnership Office Hokkaido is planning to construct a wind generation facility in Hokkaido next year, and the study meeting held by this office drew about 100 participants.

Kiko Network in Kyoto conducted survey on citizen-funded generation facilities. The first citizen-funded generation facility was construction in Miyazaki Prefecture in 1994. There were 185 facilities of clean energy, of which 165 facilities are for photovoltaic generation, 19 for wind generation, and 1 for small hydraulic generation in 2007. Currently, more than 200 citizen-funded generation facilities are supposed to be operating. Their generation capacity ranges from a few kW to more than 1,000 kW.

The political turmoil is still prevailing without any sign of termination. As is often the case, grass-roots activities are going on regardless of the disgusting leadership struggle in the government.

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