Energy / Climate Change

March 17, 2004


Japan's First Power Generation Using Gasified Woody Biomass in Iwate Prefecture

Keywords: Ecosystems / Biodiversity Fossil Fuels Government Local government NGO / Citizen Policy / Systems 

Koromogawa Village in Isawa County, located in northern Japan's Iwate Prefecture, announced that it will start a project in fiscal 2004 to generate electricity by running a motor using wood gasified at high temperatures, including wood that comes from thinning tree plantations. This is the country's first project involving the practical application of power generation using gasified woody biomass.

Financial resources for the project include about 15 million yen (about U.S. $140,000) from a village fund for promoting a resource-circulating society that has accumulated from municipal revenues and supporters' donations, as well as a subsidy from the Ministry of the Environment amounting to about 28 million yen (about U.S. $262,000). Plans call for the village to install two small gasification furnaces to supply power and heat to Kurotaki Hot Spring, a municipal community center for senior citizens.

One cubic meter of wood chips can generate about 20 kilowatts per day, equivalent to the power consumption of ten private homes. The power generated will be used for the lights, sauna baths and electrically charged massage baths of Kurotaki Hot Spring. The motor's exhaust heat will also be utilized for heating the water used in the baths.

Koromogawa Village, located in the southern Iwate, has a population of less than 5,400, and 80 percent of its land is covered with forest and tree plantations. With its forest industry struggling in the prolonged economic downturn, the village realized it could used its wood resources for power generation in a bid to boost the use of plantation thinnings. In 2001, it examined the feasibility of generating power using gasified wood chips, focusing on a research project commissioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), an extra-governmental organization affiliated with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The results of this research gave rise to the project.

Posted: 2004/03/17 10:23:19 AM
Japanese version