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Potential of the ‘Renewable Energy Exodus’ (a mass rural remigration) for massive GHG reduction in Japan
- Horio, Masayuki, Shigeto, Sawako, Ii, Ryota, Shimatani, Yukihiro, Hidaka, Masato
- Applied energy 2015 v.160 pp. 623-632
- economic analysis, energy balance, farming systems, greenhouse gases, population density, renewable energy sources, urban areas, Japan
- For the utilization of renewable energy from sources widely distributed in low-density non-urban areas the grid augmentation for its transmission to urban areas of high population density is often discussed under the premise that the present demand distribution remains invariant. Instead of grid augmentation, this study examined an alternative option of creating a power demand close to renewable sources and inducing population movements (i.e., Renewable Energy Exodus). First, the capacity of renewable energy to maintain populations in hilly and mountainous farming areas of Japan was evaluated from two perspectives: Task (1) a challenging nationwide balance based on possible energy demand saving scenario for the future, and Task (2) a conservative nationwide balance based on the current per capita energy demand and on the region-by-region generation–consumption matching concept. Because Task (2) indicated that Hokkaido, the northern-most island, has a huge capacity, Task (3) was conducted for Hokkaido by examining both energy balance and economic evaluation including job creation for the following two scenarios: (A) a supply to Tokyo scenario and (B) a local demand generation scenario, keeping the same conservativeness as Task (2) by using the current data for energy consumption per capita. The nationwide Renewable Energy Exodus estimates gave 48 million people for Task (1) (with the future per capita energy demand) and 10 million people for Task (2) (with the current per capita energy demand and region-by-region self-sustained balance), respectively. For Hokkaido Task (3) (with an additional economic assessment) gave 1 million people. The Renewable Energy Exodus concept combined with the green economy promotion was found to have a significant merit for a sustainable future of countries like Japan where economic and social disparities are serious between urban areas and non-urban areas.