Sunday, July 06, 2008

Japan's Many Examples of Energy Efficiency


One smart solution to our energy problems is to make due with less. Since the early 1970's, Japan, the world's second largest economy, has become skilled at that practice, adapting to the fact the country has a small land area and few natural resources. This hasn't stopped them from applying innovative energy saving techniques, particularly in the manufacturing sector, as discussed in a New York Times article, Japan Sees a Chance to Promote Its Energy-Frugal Ways. Journalist Martin Fackler noted:

According to the International Energy Agency, based in Paris, Japan consumed half as much energy per dollar worth of economic activity as the European Union or the United States, and one-eighth as much as China and India in 2005. While the country is known for green products like hybrid cars, most of its efficiency gains have been in less eye-catching areas, for example, in manufacturing.

Corporate Japan has managed to keep its overall annual energy consumption unchanged at the equivalent of a little more than a billion barrels of oil since the early 1970s, according to Economy Ministry data. It was able to maintain that level even as the economy doubled in size during the country’s boom years of the 1970s and ’80s.

The photo at the top of this post, by Ko Sasaki for The New York Times, shows a view through a window looking onto a commercial complex in Chiba, Japan, that uses transparent solar panels on window glass to generate power.