Feature Reports

Japan and Energy

Japan has turned research and innovation into the main drivers of its growth. ©SHUTTERSTOCK

A large industrialized nation, Japan has turned research and a partnership between government authorities, companies and citizens into the main drivers of its growth. For decades, Japan has been studying and developing new forms of energy. The Fukushima nuclear accident further accentuated the country's need to better balance its energy mix and thereby reduce its dependency on imported fossil fuels and on nuclear energy, which worries the population. Today, Japan is accelerating its transformation, in the areas of both technology (renewable energies, hydrogen and energy storage) and social structure (decentralized energy management and smart communities).

Japan and energy

Japan, a densely populated and highly industrialized country with a limited inhabitable area and virtually no fossil fuels, has been looking into new energy sources and technological innovations for more than 50 years. This proactive approach has enabled it to become one of the world's leaders in research on renewable energies and hydrogenThe simplest and lightest atom, the most abundant element in the universe. . The March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident led to the shutdown of a powerful and very old network of nuclear plants, reopening the debate about the country's energy transition.

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Japan and Energy

Japan is the most advanced country in the world in terms of hydrogenThe simplest and lightest atom, the most abundant element in the universe. research, with fuel cellA device that produces electricity by oxidizing a reducing agent (fuel) in one electrode (the anode) and reducing an oxidizing agent in another...­powered products already available on the market, including passenger cars and building heating systems. Japanese researchers want to go a step further by using hydrogen as an energy carrierA synonym of secondary energy (see definition). and are already examining its global market potential.

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Japan and Energy

The great importance placed on "community" by Japanese society, as demonstrated in various levels of family life, business and national government, has a powerful impact on how energy is managed. This distinctiveness has enabled the Japanese to extensively integrate new, innovative technologies into their daily lives. Smart homes and districts, as well as "smart communities" on a more integrated level, are one of Japan's hallmarks.

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