Friday, March 07, 2014

Changes in the countryside

As I have said before I am lucky in that my family often comes to visit us.  In general they must arrive with a sense of comfort in the knowledge that here in the countryside of Japan nothing really changes.  A few more houses may become vacant, but in general there is nothing "new" happening.  However in the last couple of years  there is one thing that has had both my parents wanting to snap photos - solar panels.  They are popping up on every vacant lot, no matter how big or small.  There are advertisements on T.V. all the time asking if you are making the most of your vacant land and whether you want to invest in pumping electricity back into the grid.  
When they first started appearing I thought it was fantastic.  After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima I thought it was great that they were using unproductive land to create an alternative source of electricity.  The faster we can get rid of all nuclear power stations the better in my opinion.  However lately the solar power movement has been getting slightly out of control.  Originally it was all on a small scale, but now there are huge blocks of land that are being converted into solar panel jungles.  As well as being very ugly, they are also reducing the amount of land that could be used for agriculture in the future.  According to one website Japan currently imports a total of 60% of its food.  No one seems very worried that in the future this could lead to huge problems and that they need to be using their own land to increase the production of food for their own consumption.  
There are also areas nearby that are trying to promote the beauty of their area for tourism purposes, but are battling big companies wanting to build mega-solar farms in the middle of these areas.   It is a hard issue - as I said I would love to see the end to nuclear power, but.... I'm not sure that these huge areas of solar panels are the answer. Hopefully there will be a good balance struck soon.


  1. Anonymous3:42 PM

    I have slowly getting pics for a solar panal post - there are so many going up lately. I love it though. Surely not as much of an eyesore as the war of the worlds type landscape in Manuwatu with the big windmills. Which I actually also love now :) Anything's better than nuclear.

    1. Solar is not an eyesore until you have to live next to one. In Tsukahara, we have been fighting to keep Megasolar from invading the surrounding landscape. I understand that the farmers own the lands and they need to survive too. Megasolar purchased a lot of land around Tsukahara, but the local government voted to prevent any solar from being built. The Chinese purchased a lot of land in Rick Spring Valley in secret and put the panels up overnight. I'm all for alternate sources of safe energy, but not at the cost of destroying the natural surroundings. Tsukahara depends on tourism. Who wants to see solar farms instead of open meadows? Why not stick them on the rooftops of all those buildings in the major cities? They suck up most of the power anyway. Nope. Take advantage of the struggling farmer and buy up their land for pennies on the dollar. We plan on putting our money where our mouth is by installing solar panels on our roof. It's expensive, but it's the socially responsible thing to do.