Japan Getting Gassed Up
Ever since Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the nation has been importing more and more fossil fuels. There are still talks about whether or not to resume Japan’s heavy reliance on nuclear power, but that may soon be a thing of the past. Japan has recently led a trial expedition that began extracting methane hydrate or flammable ice (compressed gas that looks like ice, but burns) from underneath the Pacific sea floor, the first time the world has done so, and this new source of energy could possibly be a alternative to oil and current gas reserves. “Japan could finally have an energy source to call its own,” said Takami Kawamoto, a spokesman for the Japan Oil, Gas & Metals National Corp. If Mr. Kawamoto is right, this could be huge game changer for the Japan and the rest of the world. While good for Japan, it might be bad for the nations it imports fossil fuels from since Japan is the world’s largest importer of liquified natural gas. Experts say that underneath the sea floor around Japan, there is 7 trillion cubic meters of methane hydrate, which is enough to provide natural gas energy to Japan for the next 100 years. However, this sounds too good to be true for now because no one knows the possible environmental effects of extracting these gases from beneath the sea floor yet, including a possibility that more methane gas, considered a greenhouse gas, will be released into the atmosphere.
Written by: Kevin Zhang
Tabuchi, Hiroko. “An Energy Coup for Japan: ‘Flammable Ice’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 12 Mar. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/business/global/japan-says-it-is-first-to-tap-methane-hydrate-deposit.html?ref=business>.