Firms eye power generation in post-Fukushima Japan

Firms eye power generation in post-Fukushima Japan

OHIRA, Japan - A remote Toyota plant in northeastern Japan bears few scars from the devastating quake-tsunami more than two years ago that completely shut it down.

Employees roll out more than 100,000 Corolla and Yaris sedans a year and the factory looks like most operated by the world's biggest automaker.

But the plant is unusual for something that cannot easily be seen: it produces its own power.

A gas-fired power system supplies 7,800 kilowatts of energy - about 70 per cent of present needs - to help keep production moving, and virtually nothing is lost.

The factory recycles heat from the burning of gas and uses it to dry the paint on finished vehicles. Hot water from the gas turbine runs through pipes into a nearby greenhouse that grows green peppers, which will later be sold.

Solar panels also supply some power to the plant.

The factory is tapped into the local energy grid and could supply the nearby village of Ohira in case of another disaster.

"We produce electricity for us, but also emergency power for local businesses and the town," said Toyota official Makoto Sogo, raising his voice above a deafening turbine.

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