KUZUMAKI, Iwate Pref. (Kyodo) The town of Kuzumaki, Iwate Prefecture, covers about 80 percent of its energy needs with wind power, cattle urine and manure.

Since it declared its resolve in 1999 to actively press ahead with the introduction of new energy resources, the town has brought in windmills and utilized the manure of the area’s many cattle to produce electricity.

The Clean Power Kuzumaki Wind-Generated Power Station began operating in December at a site about 30 minutes’ drive from the town.

The station has 12 wind turbines and cost about 4.7 billion yen.

People visit from other prefectures to see clean energy in action. A member of a delegation from a town assembly in Hyogo Prefecture said the wind power system has “an outstanding educational effect.”

He was amazed by the spectacle of the turbines, each equipped with three 30-meter blades. The assemblyman said the sight of the huge turbines would get children interested in wind power.

The wind plant is managed by a firm owned by Tokyo-based Electric Power Development Co. (J-Power), but the town office plays its part in running the facility.

“The annual power output is enough for 16,000 households,” a Kuzumaki town office official said. Kuzumaki has a population of 8,664.

The town also runs the Sodeyama highland wind power generating facility, which is armed with three turbines.

There were 576 wind turbines operating in Japan in fiscal 2002, and nearly 70 percent were in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region, including Iwate Prefecture.

They have a combined generating capacity of 460 mw, or roughly 40 percent that of a nuclear power plant.

Kuzumaki also has a “biogas system” in which the urine and dung of cows is fermented to extract methane gas to generate power.

Some 200 head of cattle generate 13 tons of waste a day.

The mixture, fermented for 30 days to create gas, does not emit much odor.

The residue is either converted into liquid fertilizer or used to make compost, completing the cycle of growing grass to feed the cattle.

A fuel cell system using the waste material from 20 head of cattle went into full-scale operation on Aug. 2.

Town Mayor and veterinarian Tetsuo Nakamura gave a lecture to junior high school students who visited a barn near the pasture.

He said the town office “gets about 40 million yen a year in fixed assets tax from the wind power generation. The experience with new energy is giving our townspeople confidence and pride.

“I think it is showing its utmost effect.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.