TsukuBlog

A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Tsukuba`s GREENERY Ironically (and very quickly) Disappearing for the sake of GREEN ENERGY – Solar Panel Boom creates ugly, dangerous, carbon-emitting landscapes

 

Solar panels

Solar panels – where just last week, vegetables grew (along route 408 in Teshirogi, Tsukuba). Ibaraki Prefecture now produces about 1 million kilowatts with its solar-panels (second in Japan only to Fukuoka Prefecture) – but many of the newer systems are being installed on land which had long been forest, bamboo grove or vegetable field – and not on roof-tops or over parking lots.

 

A huge swath of foreston the southern slope of Mt. Tsukuba has been cleared for the installtion of solar panels - despite the fact that the area lies within a Quasi-National Park

A huge swath of forest on the southern slope of Mt. Tsukuba has been cleared for the installtion of solar panels – despite the fact that the area lies within a Quasi-National Park! Local residents (and other concerned citizens) are up-in-arms: not only because of the “eye-sore” this has created, but also because the area will be much more suscetpible to landslide with all the forest cover removed.

By Avi Landau

Going around Tsukuba, whether by car, bicycle or on foot, has become a JARRING experience for those of us who have been living here for more than just a few years. Often, when we expect to come upon our favorite “green-spots”- the forests, woods, bamboo groves, vegetable-fields, and other verdant spaces which have made this area so pleasant and comforting, we are greeted instead by expansive monstrosities of metal and silicon, flat panels pointed diagonally (and worshipfully) toward the heavens, sitting on bases of grim concrete. It seems as if week by week our most beautiful, carbon absorbing, little-creature-sheltering spaces are giving way to solar-panel systems, installed by land-owners who have been convinced by small solar-energy companies that they will be able to make profits in the future, by selling the electricity they produce.

Solar-panel system where are bamboo grove once rustled

Solar-panel system installed on a spot where a bamboo grove once rustled

Many of these small solar-panel companies, though, might not survive the seven years they insist it will take before a profit can be turned. And if they do go out of business, it might not even be posible to keep these systems in working order – let alone profitable. Some of these companies are also quite dubious – to say the least. In fact, the disasterous flood which inundated Joso City this year has been partially attributed to solar panels. The company that installed that particular system lowered by 2 meters the levee along the Kinu River so that their panels could get more sunshine. The rising river flooded over that spot first and led to a huge breach in the embankment.

Flooding along the Kinu River on September 10, 2015

Flooding along the Kinu River on September 10, 2015 was facilitated by a solar-panel system for which the levee had been lowered by 2 meters

Last month, I read about solar panels which were built along the shores of Lake Hinuma. Plenty of “clean” energy will be obtained, they say, but an important nesting area for birds was filled in and concreted over ! Why can`t we keep this ostensibly very environmentally-friendly power source, truly environmentally-friendly?

Once again, I will have to blame the solar panel companies who push their systems as investments and insist on their profitability – urging landlords to turn their “useless” green areas into productive plots earning their owners money every day.

Another big solar-panel story hit the local news this week. A huge swath of mixed forest has been cut down (already) on the southern slope of Mt. Tsukuba to make way for a solar panel field. Curiously, this happened in an area that is park of what is called the Mt. Tsukuba Quasi-National Park. People are outraged not only because of the viloation of park rules, but also because deforesting the slope creates a serious landslide hazard – not to mention the uglification of an important scenic area.

Fortunately, this issue has apparentl struck a nerve among the general populace here and already some serious activism has arisen – hopefully that project, like Mayor Ichihara`s ill-fated scheme to build a sports complex, will be cancelled due to popular opinion.

Solar energy is a GREAT idea – and I support it all the way. But lets keep the panels on roof-tops and over parking lots. We don`t have to cut down the forest or cement over the rice-paddies to install them!

Gray future. Let`s keep the solar panels on the roofs and over the parking lots w here they belong. We don`t have to cut down the forest or cement-over the vegetable fields to install them

Gray future. Let`s keep the solar panels on the roofs and over the parking lots w here they belong. We don`t have to cut down the forest or cement-over the vegetable fields to install them

 



One Comment

  • Avi Landau says:

    A meeting was held today in Numata, Tsukuba , to set into motion the movement to stop the installation of solar panel farm at four locations on the southern-slope of Mt. Tsukuba, 3 of them inside the quasi-national park. There were representives of the Mt. Tsukuba Shrine, the Mt. Tsukuba Hotel Owners Association, and the Residents Association of Numata, among others, were there, expressing hteir concern about possible landslides, and the general uglification of Mt. Tsukuba. Hopefully with the kind of clout those who attended the meeting yesterday pack, they might actually be able to bring the fiendish plan to a stop.