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Japanese Community Goes Solar, Wants No Nuclear

As Japan debates whether to continue its reliance on nuclear power, one small community has gone fully solar powered. 2012-11-10 09:41 AM EST Last Updated: 2012-11-10 10:10 AM EST

In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, residents of one small community are taking energy into their own hands.

 Just 50 miles from the controversial Ohi nuclear plant, a tiny 42-person community is producing its energy from solar power.


The man behind the solar power plant says it has also helped keep the youth interested in the rural community.


[Yosuhiro Hosoda, Proponent of Solar Plant]: 

"I feel it has made the area more optimistic. As the town is graying, there are a lot of elderly here and not that many young people. Before all of this, when we were talking amongst ourselves, there weren't any optimistic things to talk about.”


The project was started before the Fukushima nuclear crisis, but since the tragic event, the residents' conviction has only grown. 


[Yosuhiro Hosoda, Proponent of Solar Plant]: 

“I do think that we have to create a way so we don't have to rely on nuclear power." 


But the village is not independent of municipal electricity completely. The solar panels can't be used at night or in bad weather and there are no batteries to store the electricity. Thus the community has to use some power from the grid. But the excess power they create during the day they sell to the power companies and make up for the amount they consume overall.


All of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors were shut down immediately following the Fukushima disaster.


Of those 50, only two reactors at the Ohi plant were restarted earlier this year despite concerns the plant is on a dangerous fault line.


While the plant operator has said the fault lines are safe, the country's nuclear regulators are currently re-investigating the issue.


[Tatsuro Yamada, Solar Community Resident]: 

"As the Ohi reactor is indeed operating, with everything that happened in Fukushima it really does make one uneasy. If possible, and this is just my personal opinion, it would be better to have them reduce the amount of nuclear power or in the future get rid of it and instead use renewable energy." 


While Japan's regulatory authority has held two meetings about the reinvestigation, they have yet to come to a conclusion as to whether it is safe to operate.


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