Geothermal Energy & Ethanol

Charles Jannuzi b_rieux at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 5 18:02:16 MST 2002


I have enjoyed this discussion a lot.

A few comments and a bit of info. about Japan:

It's obvious that the immediate future's
potential for energy conservation and various
alternative sources is tremendous. The biggest
single step the world could take would actually
be one that the US would have to make: energy
conservation in the US. Consider, Japan per
capita consumes about half the energy the US
does. If energy consumption could be brought down
in the US, it would buy the world time.

Japan's moves into nuclear energy and
hydroelectric are environmental and
infrastructure nightmares. The nuclear plants
have been a constant source of safety problems
(even as they enrich GE), and here in Fukui ,
where there are a lot of plants on the southern
coast, there is this grim feeling of 'if a
meltdown disaster occurs, we wouldn't be
surprised, so stock up on the iodine'. The
various dam projects sterilize every river (and
Japan had some lovely rivers at one time!),
though this is also about manipulation of the
water supplies to grow too much rice, combined
with the replanting of natural hardwood forests
into cryptomeria, camphor and cypress, the roots
systems of which hold back much less water than a
nice healthy, diversified climax beech forest.

I've suggested it for 5 years, though no doubt
not because of my suggestions, Fukui Prefecture
has finally installed its first windmills for
power generation. I noticed how between Fukui
City and the coast, there were constantly windy
conditions no matter what time of year or what
sort of weather. It always seemed that when I set
out to cycle to the coast, I would often face a
headwind, but when I came back toward Fukui City,
I'd also often face a stiff headwind coming out
of the diluvial uplands. And it's no coincidence
that the giant windmills have been installed on
the top of a mountain that lies between Fukui
City and the coast. They are quite ugly and ruin
the mountain scenery, but I shouldn't be
surprised if I see many more of them quite soon.

Japan does have potential in geothermal, too.
Geothermal is actually somewhat exploited
already, since it is used at all the 'onsen' hot
springs. It seems in Japan that almost every town
has an onsen, and hot water was found simply by
drilling deep enough and in enough places to find
it.

Also, Toyota and Honda are already manufacturing
and selling hybrid cars, which get incredible
mileage. We drive a Mitsubishi Mirage Dingo, and
the 'EFI' technology on the gasoline engine of
this car gets absolutely great mileage (so long
as you drive without the lead foot and drive so
the 'EFI' indicator light is on). I think the
best thing Americans could do would be to refuse
to buy gas-guzzling cars (if you have that
choice). I have.

Charles Jannuzi
Fukui University, Japan

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