Marubeni targeting geothermal energy in Japan

The current stigma against nuclear energy is understandable, and looking towards heat as a source of energy might be a sound move.

Japan is part of the infamous Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a geologically active area with volcanoes and tectonic shift zones that push heat closer to the Earth’s surface.

Logically, a technologically advanced nation like Japan would be wise to consider heat as a source of energy — potentially an abundant supply of energy that, like nuclear power, doesn’t pollute the atmosphere, but without the contamination and safety risks.

The current effort of Marubeni is looking into tapping pools of underground heat in the country, potentially extracting double the current capacity of all geothermal projects operating worldwide.

That would go a long way in helping Japan shift away from atomic reactors, and an energy source that provided 30 percent of the nation’s power before the accident in Fukushima.


“We’ve focused on hydro before,” Masahiro Uegaki, assistant general manager of Marubeni’s domestic power projects said. “Recently we are developing solar, wind and other renewable energies. Geothermal is one of our new activities.” Expanding the firm’s geothermal investments would be an obvious boon to turbine makers like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Toshiba Corp., both of which already supply equipment outside Japan.


The government’s push now is to boost supplies of renewable energy, and this is why Marubeni’s effort is now despite the environmental issues that surround the geothermal industry. As of current numbers, around 11,228 megawatts in total are being produced by all geothermal projects that operate worldwide. In Japan alone, there is potential to produce 23,000 megawatts of power from underground heat, according to the Geothermal Energy Association in Washington D.C., but currently, only 0.2 per cent of the country’s energy come from geothermal sources.