New Energy at Rhythm Niseko

Surrounded by beautiful nature, I feel blessed to call this place home. However as we experience less and less snow each year, I worry as a mum as I want to pass on the feelings of winter to my child. When I ask myself, what can I do? An immediate answer was to change our electricity source at our Niseko store to a renewable energy supplier, and we were fortunate to partner with Shinzen Energy. We hope these small steps take us a long way in the future – Tomomi Nishimura, Rhythm Japan Director.

Today we interview Daisuke Inoue of Shizen Energy, and discuss the benefits and challenges of renewable energy.

Rhythm Japan: Your company was inspired by the aftermath of the tragic 2011 nuclear disaster, with the simple mindset “be the change”. You believe the transition to a 100% renewable-powered planet will have the biggest impact to sustaining our beautiful blue planet.

Why use renewable energy? What’s wrong with regular energy?

Conventional thermal power using fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide a lot more than wind power or solar energy. To hold back global warming, we think shifting to less carbon dioxide renewable energy is effective. On the other hand, local energy production and consumption makes Japan independent from coal and oil importation. It also leads to money circulation in the local area. With dispersing renewable energy plants, it can make energy stabler, safer, and cheaper. It can also help prevent large power outages when we are hit by natural disasters.

If it is much better for the earth, why isn’t it more common?

The downside to renewable energies is that their generating capacity is affected by weather. But luckily this problem is being solved by innovations in battery technology. We want to shift to use 100% renewable energy in the future. It takes time but we are doing our best to accelerate it. There are some energy advanced countries like Germany which we can look to as good examples. Prime Minister Suga has declared that Japan will be carbon neutral by 2050 so we are expecting the country to move forward.

What challenges do you face when making renewable energy? Does Hokkaido’s harsh winters bring additional challenges to renewable energy production?

In places where there is a lot of snow in winter like Hokkaido, generating capacity is inferior to less snowy areas however it is still possible to produce renewable energy. Because the sunlight hours are so long in summer time in Hokkaido we are generally able to extend the total generating capacity. Also it’s common to design solar panels with steep angles to make snow slide off, so that the panels can remain exposed to the sunlight.

Has climate change impacted your operation so far? ie are the storms causing lots of damage to the infrastructure?

The latest typhoon came through an area where our power plant is located, and the blackout and floods directly affected our operation. Fortunately our plant did not suffer any significant damage, however it is concerning that the typhoons will likely become bigger and more common in the future due to rising the ocean temperatures and other effects of global warming. Overall Japan has suffered serious damage from typhoons over the past couple of years, with the government taking serious steps to mitigate storm damage in the future.   

Where do you see the most growth for renewable energy production in Japan? Is it hydroelectric, solar or wind?

In 2019, the total rate of renewable energy generated in Japan increased from 17.4% to 18.5%. The flactual energy rate which is like solar power or wind power energy increased from 7.2% to 8.2%. Of all newly introduced power plants in 2019, 40% of them created renewable energy.

Is it possible for your power source to be 100% renewable energy?

Our goal is making it happen and becoming 100% renewable, however it is difficult to do it alone. We have many partners and we believe working with like minded people and utilizing innovations in technology will enable us to reach our goal.

Learn more about Shizen Energy at www.shizenenergy.net

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