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Asia Report: Japan Taps Into Promising Geothermal Potential

Japan has made considerable strides in solar installations since the announcement of Feed-in Tariffs, and now the country is starting to lay the groundwork for geothermal expansion, as well.

This spring, Japan relaxed rules regarding geothermal energy within its national parks. Now, at least one project is moving forward — a 500-kilowatt plant at the Tsuchiyu Onsen hot spring in Fukushima City, an area not far from the epicenter of last year’s nuclear crisis. The project has the potential to expand to 1 megawatt (MW).

The project, which is expected to begin operations in the fall, will use a binary cycle method, which uses heat from hot spring water with a low boiling point to power a turbine. While the size of the project is small, the potential could be great inside Japan’s geothermal-rich national parks.  According to the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan's geothermal reserve is the third largest in the world, and 80 percent of those resources are in national parks. The nation, however, has only 18 geothermal power stations in operation, and the resource accounts for just 0.2 percent of the nation’s annual capacity.


IN THE NEWS

Indonesia Boosts Geothermal FITs: The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesia substantially raised its geothermal tariffs this week across the archipelago of 240 million people, beginning what the government bills as a "crash" program.

China Probes, U.S., South Korea Polysilicon: China is investigating whether exporters from the U.S. and South Korea sold solar-grade polysilicon below cost, a practice known as dumping, as part of a probe following complaints from four domestic companies.

In Parts of India, Wind Energy Cheaper Than Coal: The cost of wind power has dropped below the price of coal-fired energy in parts of India for the first time as improved turbine technology and rising fossil-fuel prices boost its competitiveness, Greenko Group Plc said.

China, India Dispute Over Hydro Sector: The Indo-China discord over sharing of the Brahmaputra waters has prevented the development of hydropower potential in the northeast, including Arunachal Pradesh, considered to be the 'future powerhouse' of India.

Indian Solar Firms Get U.S. Loans: The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorised loans totalling $57.3 million to two Indian firms to finance the export of American solar panels and ancillary services to India. The solar panels, which are manufactured by First Solar Inc. of Tempe, Arizona, will be used in the construction of solar photovoltaic plants in Rajasthan, the Bank announced.


ON THE HORIZON

China Could Be Rare Earths Importer by 2014: U.S. and Canadian producers of heavy rare earth metals are poised to benefit as China becomes a net importer of some of the materials as early as 2014, said Peter Cashin, chief executive officer of Quest Rare Minerals Ltd.

GE to Power Cambodian Biomass Project: GE announced the SOMA Group, a leading Cambodian industrial conglomerate, has selected GE’s Waukesha gas engine technology to power a new rural, rice husk biomass-energy project. The project is Cambodia’s first integrated biomass gasification-gas engine solution designed to supply renewable electricity to the local grid in support of the country’s rural electrification goals.

Japan Inverter Shortage Possible: Many solar firms have been optimistic about Japan's solar market due to the high feed-in-tariff (FIT) rates. Nevertheless, industry sources noted that most PV inverters that have obtained Japan Electrical Safety & Environment Technology Laboratories (JET) certification are from Japan-based firms. This means supply may be limited and shortages of PV inverters may appear.

Korea Ramping Up Wind Power Projects: Korea is speeding up its wind power projects, aiming to complete construction of turbine test beds in the South and Yellow Seas by June 2013, as well as expanding some pre-existing offshore projects. Jae-Yong NamKung, Deputy Director of New and Renewable Energy Division, confirmed Korea’s ambitions at the June 15 Global Wind Day Networking Seminar. He said a 20-MW wind power test bed in southwestern Korea would be completed a year ahead of schedule.


FOCUS ON SCIENCE

China Looks to “Gutter Oil” For Biofuel: Used cooking oil in China — when collected from waste and refuse, it is known as "digou you", or literally "gutter oil" — has created controversies in the past when sold illegally back to restaurants and companies to be used for human consumption. However, recycled oils in China may soon be subject to a sophisticated multistep refining treatment to be turned into high-grade fuel for jet aircraft.

The Rise of India’s Solar Cities: India’s ministry of new and renewable energy has initiated the development of solar cities. The program has been designed to encourage urban local bodies to prepare a road map to guide their cities in becoming 'renewable energy cities' or 'solar cities'. In a solar city all types of renewable energy-based projects like solar, wind, biomass, small hydro, and waste to energy will be installed in an energy efficient manner as well as commensurate with the requirements of the city.


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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

July 2-16 Asia Report: The Dawn on Japan’s Offshore Wind Era
June 25-July 2 Asia Report: Japan Enters Renewables Era With Major Developments
June 18-25, 2012 Asia Report: Toshiba Plans Japan’s Largest PV Plant
June 11-18, 2012 Asia Report: U.K.-Korea Unite Behind Offshore, Tidal Potential
June 4-11, 2012 Asia Report: As EU Trade Case Looms, Market May Shift East
May 21-29, 2012 Asia Report: China’s Solar Giants Unite to Confront Tariff
May 14-21, 2012 Asia Report: Solar Stocks Tumble After Solar Ruling
May 7-14, 2012 Asia Report: Solar Dumping Announcement Set for May 17
May 1-7, 2012 Asia Report: European Ruling Could Cut Into Palm Oil Exports
April 23-30, 2012 Asia Report: U.S., India Strike $125 Million Investment Deal
April 16-23, 2012 Asia Report: Japan Solar FiT Likely In Line With Industry Request
April 9-16, 2012 Asia Report: Are China’s Sinovel, Goldwind Seeking Vestas Takeover

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