Given that Japan, as Sam Biddle over at Gizmodo puts it, “isn’t too hot on nuclear power at the moment,” it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that the traumatized island nation will continue to use nuclear but not expand its nuclear programs. Instead, attention will be shifted to expanding the use of clean, renewable energy sources like wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower, and, last but not least, solar.
What is somewhat surprising — in an encouraging way — is an ambitious, aggressive, and solar-centric plan of attack that's to be unveiled by Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan at this week’s G8 summit in France. Dubbed most fittingly as the Sunrise Plan, the initiative calls for every new home and commercial building in Japan to be fitted with solar panels by the year 2030.
According to The Telegraph, the Sunrise Plan will build on the country’s earlier solar initiatives like the School New Deal which called for 12,000 schools to make the switch to solar energy. The Kyocera Corporation has already installed photovoltaic panels in more than 1,200 of them.
As noted by TIME Ecocentric blogger Krista Mahr, Kan’s massive but not unrealistic plan could effectively hand worldwide solar leadership back to the Land of the Rising Sun (the name Japan actually translates to "sun-origin"). In the 1980s, Japan was the undisputed leader in solar technology although the country’s stronghold has wavered in recent years as the governments of Western European nations such as Germany and Spain started to subsidize solar power. To be clear, solar power never went away in Japan — the Sunrise Plan could just give it a huge boost.
I'm guessing there will be more news on this to come as additional details emerge. I'll keep you posted.