Sunday, April 13, 2008

Japan's new energy source - methane hydrate

Good news. Japan has found a source of energy. There is methane hydrate sealed in permafrost, as I understand it, of the coast of Japan. The reserve is huge - decades of Japan's needs if it can be used. And a successful experiment indicates so. Of course the people who talk about energy independence then fight tooth-and-nail against it are aghast. Japan's Arctic methane hydrate haul raises environment fears - Times Online :
Japan is celebrating a groundbreaking science experiment in the Arctic permafrost that may eventually reshape the country's fragile economy and Tokyo's relationships with the outside world. For an unprecedented six straight days, a state-backed drilling company has managed to extract industrial quantities of natural gas from underground sources of methane hydrate - a form of gas-rich ice once thought to exist only on the moons of Saturn. In fact, the seabeds around the Japanese coast turn out to conceal massive deposits of the elusive sorbet-like compound in their depths, and a country that has long assumed it had virtually no fossil fuels could now be sitting on energy reserves containing 100 years' fuel. Critically for Japan, which imports 99.7 per cent of the oil, gas and coal needed to run its vast economy, the lumps of energy-filled ice offer the tantalising promise of a little energy independence. ... The potential of methane hydrates as a source of natural gas has been known scientifically for some time, though how much was lurking off the Japanese coast has been confirmed only in the past couple of years. Methane hydrates are believed to collect along geological fault lines, and Japan sits atop a nexus of three of the world's largest. In 2007 the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry declared that there were more than 1.1 trillion cubic metres (39 trillion cubic feet) of methane hydrates off the eastern coast - equivalent to 14 years of natural gas use by Japan at current rates. Academic studies suggest total Japanese deposits of 7.4 trillion cubic metres.

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