The industry ministry said Monday it will offer financial support to seven projects nationwide that aim to generate electricity by using heat energy from hot springs water.

The move comes as Japan hopes to boost renewable energy in light of the Fukushima meltdown crisis and the nation's subsequent quest to reduce its reliance on atomic power.

The projects will cover six regions, including the Atagawa hot springs area in Higashiizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, the Arifuku spa area in Gotsu, Shimane Prefecture, and the Hokkaido town of Ashoro, a hot springs source.

In geothermal power generation using hot springs, electricity is produced by spinning a steam turbine with hot water taken from a source of hot springs or wells. The water used for power generation can also be used for baths.

Also known to be easier to develop than other geothermal power generation projects because there is no need to dig deep wells to extract steam, hot springs power generation may be put in operation in around two years after starting a survey project.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said it will provide all the funds for the surveys for the seven projects through the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp.