With guidance and inspiration from Denmark, Ogata in the Northern prefecture of Akita aims to turn their old lake, now a reclaimed agricultural area, into a sustainable ‘energy island’ . The Mayor, Mr. Hiroto Takahashi, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Danish Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Freddy Svane today.
Up until 60 years ago, the area was the 2nd largest lake in Japan. After building dykes and twenty years of pumping water away from the lake, the village of Ogata and its surrounding fields on the new land cultivate some of the best soil in Japan. After this incredible achievement, Ogata in the Northern prefecture of Akita has a new ambition: to turn the old lake, now a reclaimed agricultural area, into a sustainable ‘energy island’.
Ogata village, home to approx. 4,000 inhabitants, most of whom are farmers, has turned to Denmark for inspiration to go green. On Monday, 12 December, the Mayor, Mr. Hiroto Takahashi, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Danish Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Freddy Svane.
Denmark aims to advise Ogata on energy-related matters in particular within wind energy, bioenergy, and district energy, while the MoU also aims at creating collaborations in many other areas such as agriculture and organic food production, which is only just starting up in Japan.
Ogata’s living is primarily based on the production of rice, but the agricultural production also leaves behind a waste product, namely rice husks. In addition, Ogata is known for its windy conditions. Back in 2011, the village council started looking at renewable energy as a means to improve the local economy. They turned to Denmark and with the help of the Danish Embassy in Tokyo, the Japanese consultancy, Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP), and State of Green, they have visited Denmark on several occasions.
The Danish island of Samsø, with a similar population size of 4,000 inhabitants, has shown that it is possible to rely 100 percent on renewable technologies – and Samsø has been an inspiration for Ogata.
Mayor Takahashi says of his first visit to Denmark in 2014:
– I was exposed to different initiatives within renewable energy where the community is heavily involved; I was overwhelmed by the community power. Different activities in renewable energy such as heat production from straw and biogas from a dairy by-product was truly interesting for me. There is much to learn from the community-driven renewable energy development based on long-term planning at national level an on consensus of the people.
During a 2015 visit to Denmark, the delegation from Ogata studied heating boilers with straw as a fuel as well as district energy systems and the hope is that the village will be able to introduce district energy based on heat production from rice husks in Ogata within the next few years. As a starting point, the Danish company PlanEnergi has begun making detailed plans for the project.
2017 will be a year of special focus on Japanese-Danish relations as it marks the 150th anniversary of trade relations between the two countries. In addition to several upcoming visits from Japan with focus on biomass and district energy, State of Green, ISEP and the Danish Embassy in Tokyo are also planning a delegation from Japan focusing on offshore wind energy. Japan is currently developing plans for 9-10 offshore wind farms, of which three will be placed in the Akita prefecture. State of Green will be supporting these activities, and has, with assistance from the Danish Embassy, launched a white paper on district energy in Japanese.
State of Green website in Japanese
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