Category Archives: Eco-innovation

Eco-innovation is a term used to describe products and processes that contribute to sustainable development. Eco-innovation is also a term used for sustainable products, technologies, and services.
Global markets for sustainable products, technologies and services are predicted to reach $700 billion by 2010.

You Ought to Know The Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Taking a quick poll of current trending news, using that word loosely, you will notice that the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is largely missing from the media. Why?One reason is due to the U.S government stalemate over the fiscal ceiling that, if left unresolved, could lead to ramifications we could sum up as cray banger.

    The Trade-Pacific Partnership, Initially under the acronym TPSEP, planned to liberalize trade in the Asia-Pacific region among  Brunei, Chile, Singapore, and New Zealand. After several negotiations with original members new candidate countries are being considered into the agreement; some of which include Mexico, the United States, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan. The United states began courting the TPP in early 2008 under the Bush administration’s leadership and now under Obama’s administration is being completed.  The TPP’s main priority is to “free” trade among partners to dilute barriers that stifles economic growth, i.e, tariffs and corporate restrictions.

    Japan voiced its interest in the TPP in early March 2013 to improve its trade in Asia especially after China advanced its position as the second largest economy–one Japan once held. The agreement would give Japanese corporations larger access to different markets; an overall positive outcome to minimize China’s growth within Asia as the  largest exporter. Concerns have grown among anti-globalization, environmental, and consumer-labor groups that the trade pact would stiffen nation business growth; in other words,Japan would become dependent on foreign companies similar to Mexico during its NAFTA treaty with the U.S and Canada.

    The Citizens Trade Campaign, a social and environmental trade policy group, pointed out that the TPP special provisions for corporations are “a wishlist of the 1%…[that] of the 26 chapters under negotiations, only a few have to do directly with trade….new rights and privileges [are enshrined] for major corporations while weakening the power of the nation states to oppose them.”  More concerning is that a larger majority of  information on the TPP meetings stem from Wikileaks and the Citizens’ Trade Campaign leaks. For instance, Intellectual Property Watch reported that $25,000 dollars were raised for Wikileaks to collect and publish drafted text from current TPP agreements because most has been redacted from the public domain and shared chiefly with industries. The shrewd secrecy in these negotiations concern Japanese as the chief majority of proposals  involve fields in government procurement, competition policy, labor standards, intellectual property, financial service, investment, telecommunications and environmental standards.

    One goal of the TPP is to eliminate tariffs and some of those involve what are labeled “sacred precincts.” Japanese tariffs cover about 9,018 specific items, of which the “sacred” categories of rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products and sugar account for 586. If current tariffs on all those items were maintained, according to The Mainichi, Japan would still eliminate tariffs on 93.5 percent of trade goods in the TPP zone. It is widely believed, however, that TPP negotiations are shooting for tariff elimination on more than 95 percent of items.Farmers in Japan have been protesting the TPP agenda for a while now. The Liberal Democratic Party, however, has vowed that it would seek to maintain tariffs on vital “national trade goods” including rice, wheat and barley. It was a clear move meant to reduce worries among voters that food safety would be jeopardized for trading consensus. Even if, the Mainichi notes, tariff protections are maintained for certain agricultural products and dropped for processed items, there is still a real possibility that domestic industries would take a hit under the TPP.

    Japan has fared well under Shinzo Abe’s leadership since 2012 winning its bid for the 2020 summer Olympics, raising exports, and taking a modest step out of recession. Consumer spending rose 0.9% and public sector infrastructure spending, part of Japan’s stimulus package, rose 0.8%, which is all good news for the country. Japan, however, faces  a wave of declining prices; a good thing for the average Joes who can now buy more with the same amount of money. For companies, however, if deflation persists for too long then their profits decline; thus, setting into motion a slew of policies that are meant to offset this scenario that involve cutting labor, closing manufacturing facilities, and reducing employee wages. For Shinzo Abe, TPP’s allure is the possibility that it could open new markets for the country in locations where it does not have strong footing. Nonetheless, he risks letting outsiders dominate Japan if he acquiesces to any compromises drafted by other nations such as the U.S; as to how Abe will handle the ramifications of the agreements is unknown. One thing is certain, Japan has much to determine before it can safely procure its citizens that Japanese  businesses, foods, and jobs will not be negatively affected. In the meantime, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) indicates the Japanese economy may see some advances against deflation fairly soon–continuing a string of welcomed reports.

Floating Wind Turbine Arrives in Fukushima

 Iwaki, Fukushima Pref., July 1 (Jiji Press)–A floating wind turbine to be used for an offshore power generation project arrived at Onahama port in the city of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Monday.

Member institutions hope that the project, commissioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, will help facilitate the reconstruction of Fukushima, one of the three prefectures hit hardest by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

   The wind turbine was made at a Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. <7003> plant in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, eastern Japan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Fqe1WGoGy94

Read the rest of the story: Floating Wind Turbine Arrives in Fukushima.

Hotaru-bi no Chakai: A Tea Gathering in the Fire of Fireflies

For anyone set to visit Kyoto this weekend, there’s one event Japanese haven’t failed to celebrate at the Shimogamo Shrine. Wondering what this is? Here’s all you need to know about the Hotaru-bi no Chakai.

Shimogamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Japan which is located north of Kamo and Takase Rivers of north-central Kyoto. The shrine dates back to the prehistoric periods and the first reference of the Shimogamo was of a fence repair dating back to 2BC.

The shrine has served as a central religious aspect for Kyotoites. It has said that the shrine played a significant role in the Heian period when prayers for the capital where held in that area. In countless tales, of which includes “Tale of Genji”, Shimogamo Shrine has been featured.

Today, this Kyoto shrine has been registered under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Shimogamo contains 52 building all of which are recognized as iconic Cultural Properties. A number of events take place at the Shimogamo Shrine of which include the Hotaru-bi no Chakai

About Hotaru-bi no Chakai:

Hotaru-bi no Chakai is the event held at the beginning of June which is a special tea gathering done amidst the glow of live fireflies. “Hotaru” translates to firefly while “bi” refers to fire. “Chakai” on the other hand means tea gathering. This event shows the true essence of Japanese tradition where one of its aims is the preservation of Tadasu no Mori, “The Forest of Justice,” which surrounds the Shimogamo Shrine.

Hotarubi no Chakai

For the event, around 600 fireflies are released over the stream called Mitarashigawa which serve as invites to the grandiose tea gathering. Usually, a reservation is required for one to attend the ceremony but there are other programs of the Hotaru-bi no Chakai open to the general public.

If you are ever in the area, make sure to check the Shimogamo Shrine. Other than the Hotaru-bi no Chakai, the ancient “Juni-hitoe” where 12 layers of the kimono will be shown and various dance performances are set for the night. Twenty long established stands also sell around the area at 1pm where the popular Kyoto souvenir, yatsuhashi and the common rice dumpling, mitarashi dango is being sold.

Sky Solar Japan to Start Construction on Solar Power Stations

Since Japan formally implemented new Feed-in-Tariffs for the photovoltaic (PV) industry in July 2012, it has seen an overwhelming response and injection in the market. It is expected that with electricity prices of 42 Japanese Yen (approx. 3.36 Chinese Yuan) /kWh, internal rates of return of around 20% can be given to investors. This level of IRR has attracted and tempted many companies to invest in the PV industry either through development or through mergers and acquisition.

As a professional global PV developer, investor and IPP, Sky Solar finds itself in a strong position as the Japanese market strives forward due to years of hard work, commitment and preparation. Sky Solar is now in a position to seize this opportunity and has announced the successful development of several large solar power plants through its Japanese subsidiary, Sky Solar Japan.

Read the rest of the story: Sky Solar Japan to Begin Construction on PV Power Stations.

Japan’s Tsunami Towns Create Jobs by Going Green

Rikuzentakata, like many towns on Japan’s rugged north-east Pacific coast, was in decline even before last year’s tsunami killed 1 700 of its 24 000 inhabitants and destroyed most of its downtown buildings.

With two-thirds of the remaining residents homeless, mayor Futoshi Toba questioned whether the town could recover. Damage to infrastructure and the local economy, he said, would force people to move away to find jobs.

Sixteen months later, the town is trying to rebuild in a way that Toba says will reinvent the region and provide a model to overcome obstacles that have hobbled the Japanese economy for more than 20 years: the fastest-ageing population in the developed world, loss of manufacturing competitiveness to China and South Korea and reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s tsunami towns go green to create jobs, bypass nuclear .

Japan’s Modi Corp Unveils Do-It-Yourself EV – Pius

Modi Corp, a Japan-based company that prototypes vehicles, announced that it has developed a built-it-yourself micro electric vehicle (EV).

The EV, “Pius,” is a single-seater and can be registered as a class-1 motorized bicycle in Japan. The company expects that the EV will be used as an educational tool for learning the basic functions and structure of EV. It is scheduled to be released in or after the spring of 2013.

Modi aims to sell the Pius to educational institutions such as universities, colleges of technology and car mechanics’ schools. Also, it offers a service of embedding components that its customers use for research and development in the EV so that they can use the vehicle for the evaluation of the components. The price of the EV has not been decided yet.

Read the rest of the story: Japan-based Firm Unveils Built-it-yourself EV.

SoftBank-Kyocera Solar Plant Inaugurated in Kyoto

The largest mega-solar project in Kyoto Prefecture was inaugurated Sunday, the same day a feed-in tariff for renewable energies took effect and just hours before the Oi nuclear plant was set to resume operations.

The first of the project’s two solar power facilities, built in a joint venture between SoftBank group’s SB Energy Corp. and the Kyocera group, began operations later in the day. The second facility is scheduled to go online in September, and each is expected to generate 2.1 megawatts. When both are up and running, their combined capacity will be enough to power around 1,000 households, SB Energy said.

The ceremony took place in a downpour, prompting SoftBank Corp. President and CEO Masayoshi Son to note that the weather proves Japan needs a mix of renewable energy sources.

Read the rest of the story: SoftBank-Kyocera solar plant gets off to soggy start amid downpour in Kyoto.

Floating Windmills New Idea in Japan to Wind Down Nuclear

Japan is preparing to bolt turbines onto barges and build the world’s largest commercial power plant using floating windmills, tackling the engineering challenges of an unproven technology to cut its reliance on atomic energy.

Marubeni Corp. (8002), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011) and Nippon Steel Corp. (5401) are among developers erecting a 16-megawatt pilot plant off the coast of Fukushima, site of the nuclear accident that pushed the government to pursue cleaner energy. The project may be expanded to 1,000 megawatts, the trade ministry said, bigger than any wind farm fixed to the seabed or on land.

“Japan is surrounded by deep oceans, and this poses challenges to offshore wind turbines that are attached to the bottom of the sea,” Senior Vice Environment Minister Katsuhiko Yokomitsu said at a meeting in Tokyo this month. “We are eager for floating offshore wind to become a viable technology.”

Read the rest of the story: Floating Windmills in Japan Help Wind Down Nuclear Power: Energy.

Japan’s Solar Frontier Lights CIGS over California Power Plant Deal

Japan’s Solar Frontier has made a big push into the U.S. market, landing a deal to supply 150 megawatts of advanced thin-film photovoltaic panels for installation in a California solar power plant to be built by enXco.

The agreement announced Monday is one of the largest deals for so-called CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) panels that various Silicon Valley startups have been seeking to commercialize for the past decade.

While CIGS panels are less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity than conventional silicon-based photovoltaic modules, their great promise, so far unrealized, is that they can be produced at a far lower cost.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s Solar Frontier Lands California Power Plant Deal.

Smart grid testing in Japan underway

Mitsubishi Electric Corp. has set in motion its full-scale testing of smart grid and related commercial systems at its production sites in Japan. The company said it is supporting low-carbon societies by deploying economical and highly-reliable power grids that will allow customers to manage their electricity consumption.The project focuses on the development of robust energy infrastructure that offers continuity in emergency situations, in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Read the rest of the story: Smart grid testing in Japan underway.