Renewable Next-Generation Energies for Tohoku Recovery!
This is ariTV science correspondent Ōe.
Cold weather is rolling into Tōhoku, and heaters are turning on.
On these cold days, how often do we stop to think about where the energy for our heat comes from?
Today I attended a next-generation energy symposium.
Just before December comes around, it’s the second Next-generation Energies for Tohoku recovery (NET) symposium at the downtown Hotel Metropolitan Sendai.
The NET project is a collaboration centered around Tohoku University started post-disaster seeking to advance renewable energy development, and in doing so contribute to the Tōhoku recovery.
NET comprises three R&D efforts:
1. Wave/tidal energy on the Sanriku coast
2. Algae biofuels in wastewater treatment
3. Smartgrid advancement incorporating vehicles and mobility
Each part of the project is well underway.
Experimental wave and tidal energy generation is planned in Kuji harbor and off Shiogama’s Sabusawa-jima (island). At the Minamigamō wastewater plant in Sendai, algae biofuel development is already producing results.
Today leading researchers of each respective field gave presentations to the gathered crowd.
One was Prof. Elisabeth Badens of Aix Marseille University, France.
Dr. Badens spoke on extraction of biofuel from algae.
Algae biofuels hold the promise of far more effective and efficient energy production using a fraction of the space of more conventional agricultural biofuels, all without affecting food or freshwater supplies.
For now, however, the technology has not yet matured and while the collaborative effort by Tohoku and Tsukuba universities with Sendai City has produced fuel, it is still extremely expensive.
Work now focuses on finding ways to streamline the cultivation and extraction processes.
Giving an outlook on the situation and future of ocean energy was well-regarded professor at University of Tokyo Dr. Takeshi Kinoshita.
“In the tsunami, the sea wrought terrible damage—but the sea is not an evil force. From the sea, we can develop our technology.
As soon as possible I want renewable sea energy to take shape, to be seen by the eyes of the children of the tsunami-stricken areas.”
Those words particularly hit home with me.
A future where we’re kept warm, sustainably, may be coming soon.