The alternatives seem obvious

Buffalo, New York

Regarding E.A.S. Sarma’s March 18 letter, “Awaiting a nuclear tsunami“: I am a scientist who has visited Japan frequently, for scientific meetings and as a tourist. Among my many pleasant memories are the times spent in volcanic and hot springs areas. During my visits to such areas, I have wondered why Japan hasn’t done more to harness the geothermal heat available in these regions in order to generate electricity.

Since the Fukushima nuclear accident, Japan has been wondering whether to replace its nuclear power with another form of energy, or to rebuild its nuclear facilities. The answer seems like a no-brainer to me, as Japan is a country with geothermal resources that are almost as abundant as Iceland’s. According to Wikipedia, Iceland generates nearly 30 percent of its electricity from geothermal sources. Essentially the rest of Iceland’s electricity is hydroelectric. Only 0.1 percent of Iceland’s electricity is generated by fossil fuels, and none comes from nuclear energy.

Despite much propaganda to the contrary from the nuclear and fossil-fuel industries, renewable energy — especially geothermal and wind — is now cost-competitive with, or even cheaper than, fossil-fuel or, especially, nuclear energy.

In addition to its ample geothermal resources, Japan has abundant wind, tide and solar resources. The costs of all forms of renewable energy are trending downward, while those of nuclear and fossil-fuel energy are trending upward. Why is there any hesitation about the correct route to follow to provide Japan, relatively inexpensively, with all the electrical power it needs?

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

joel huberman