Japan has 111 active volcanoes and is rich in geothermal resources. Geothermal development has attracted strong attention in the recent expansion of renewable energy development as a measure against global warming. The Fifth Energy Basic Plan published by the Japanese government in 2018 set a target share of geothermal electricity generation as 1.0 to 1.1% of the total electricity generation in the energy mix in 2030. In order to achieve this goal, it will be necessary to construct new geothermal power plants of approximately 1,000 MWe. The government is therefore supporting geothermal development through the introduction of a renewable energy feed-in tariff (FIT) system, deregulation of geothermal development in national parks, etc.
Development of geothermal energy means targeting the invisible underground and there are many difficulties with current technologies in understanding the structure of geothermal reservoirs. Despite various preliminary surveys to estimate the underground condition from the surface, there remains a risk that the borehole may not reach a reservoir and fail to produce hot water or steam. Geothermal development thus requires not only scientific knowledge including the exploration and evaluation of geothermal reservoirs, but also technologies such as how to economically extract hot water and steam for power generation or other uses.
The Geothermal Research Society of Japan (GRSJ) was established in 1978 as an academic society with the objective of advancing the knowledge on geothermal-related sciences and technologies and sharing them among its members, as well as making them widely available to the public. Members’ specialties span a wide range from academic fields, such as geology, geophysics, geochemistry, hydrology, thermodynamics, social science, and environmental science, to technical fields including drilling of production/injection wells, installation of transportation pipes, power generation, direct use of hot water, and ground source heat pump systems.
GRSJ publishes a technical journal (four issues a year), holds annual technical conferences, disseminates geothermal information through its website, and holds seminars for the public in conjunction with its annual conference or other occasions. In cooperation with domestic and overseas geothermal-related organizations, such as the Japan Geothermal Association, the Geo-Heat Promotion Association of Japan, the International Geothermal Association, and the Geothermal Resources Council, GRSJ jointly holds symposia or seminars to encourage information exchange and discussions with geothermal experts in Japan and in the world. Through these activities, GRSJ contributes to the promotion of the research in geothermal energy and the development and utilization of geothermal resources.
Dr. Hideshi KAIEDA
President, Geothermal Research Society of Japan