Experiences from the first part of the programme, the Summer School in Sendai, Japan.
Representing the University of Southampton at the RENKEI 2014 summer school were Professor Bahaj (Head, Energy and Climate Change Division), Leo Bourikas and Phil Wu. The summer school took place at the Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. The theme of the summer school was “Energy Supply within Traditional and Environmentally Conscious Growth models”.
Sendai is the largest city in the Tohoku region (population of ~1,000,000 people) and home of the Tohoku University who hosted the event. Sendai was one of the cities closest to the centre of the earthquake activity and the region that suffered together with Fukushima Prefecture the largest damage from the tsunami.
RENKEI is an initiative of the British Council Japan. The role of RENKEI is to offer a common platform for twelve prestigious Japanese and UK universities to come together along with representatives of industry in order to develop collaborations and exchange knowledge in the fields of technology, science and universities’ social engagement. The objectives of RENKEI are to support the development of large networks in education and industry and to initiate activities that will produce advantages for the global society.
Several distinguished lecturers took part into the summer school initiating the discussions on a variety of topics related to energy supply, sustainability and climate change.
• Prof. Bahaj was the first to talk on economic growth and resource efficiency. In his talk he identified cities as the key driver for sustainability and growth. At the same time he analysed the constraints opposed by a “global consumer society” lifestyle.
• Prof, Nakata (Tohoku) laid down the characteristics for community energy systems. He introduced the “Glocal scale” (Global and local) as the scale for highly efficient, local specific energy generation and distribution systems.
• Mr. Suzuki from the Fukushima Prefectural Government shared with us the view and the plans of local government to set make Fukushima as a global example of renewable energy generation. Their plans include a very large increase into solar PV and wind energy capacity that on top of biomass and hydro will cover the 100% of Fukushima’s primary energy demand by 2040.
• Mr. Tsuruoka from the( Higashimatsushima City Reconstruction Plan) offered another perspective on the discussions with the presentation of the tsunami-afflicted areas and the everyday problems the people face even 3 years after the devastation. It is to admire the courage the communities have showed and the collaborative efforts made to accomplish the massive reconstruction plans.
• Several other speakers gave lectures on subjects as diverse as passive energy design of buildings; smart grid integration of photovoltaics; climate impacts on agriculture yields and farming; environmental economics and effects of user behaviour on energy demand.
Field trips covered aspects ranging from history and social issues to scientific and technological knowledge exchange, including:
• Miyagi Province Toyota factory: after the earthquake critical infrastructure at the nearby settlements stayed without electricity for days. The Toyota factory decided to install a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine to cover its own needs in electricity but also give electricity to the nearby City Hall and the Evacuation shelters when the grid fails to. The waste heat is used in an innovative project of combined agricultural production at greenhouses on site.
• The tsunami afflicted region near Sendai. There are only a couple buildings left to remind people of the tragedy. It is shocking how much force the water had and the disaster it caused where it hit the coastline.The restoration plans include elevated roads, tree planting and moving residential settlements are further inland leaving the coastline to industrial and agricultural use. Large PV parks have been installed where debris and ruined land was before and massive amounts of earth are crushed and moved with belts and trucks from nearby hills to the seashore. The scale of the works is tremendous.
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