JAPAN is looking to the Outer Hebrides to help it harness wind and wave power in the wake of the destruction wrought by the country’s devastating tsunami in 2011.
The Consul General of Japan will be visiting the Western Isles this week researching smaller-scale renewable energy projects - in what he says could be “one of the most significant” visits he has undertaken.
Mr. Hajime Kitaoka will particularly look at wind and wave energy schemes during his two day visit, beginning on Tuesday.
Mr. Kitaoka was the U.K Desk officer at the Japanese Embassy in London before he later became the Deputy Director of the UK at the Tokyo Headquarters.
As part of his visit he will call at Lews Castle College, The Shawbost Mill, the Callanish Stones and the Seaweed Factory in addition to a few other visits.
Cllr. Norman A MacDonald, Convener of Western Isles Council, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to host the Consul General of Japan and look forward to welcoming him to our islands next week.
“We hope that he will enjoy his visit and that it will be productive in relation to his particular interest.
“In addition, Mr Kitaoka will have the opportunity to visit some local cultural and heritage sites.”
Mr Kitaoka, said: “I am excited to be visiting the Western Isles for the first time, which were described as ‘the most beautiful islands in Europe’ by Trip Advisor last year.
“I believe this visit could be one of the most significant I have undertaken since assuming the position of Consul-General over one and a half years ago. “I am very much looking forward to visiting sites relating to renewable energy, which is now of the utmost importance for the future of Japan since the nuclear disaster caused by the tsunami in 2011.”
The last act of the former prime minister Naoto Kan before his departure in 2011 was the passing of a bill to promote renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal.
The new law forces power utilities to buy power generated by renewable sources at fixed prices, while allowing them to pass on extra costs to consumers.
Hydro power and wind power are other sources of renewable energy which both the government and industries are increasingly tapping into in a bid to help power resources-poor Japan.
Another key area that is being tapped for greater development in the future is the source of the very force which caused the March 11 earthquake – Japan’s seismic activities, in the form of geothermal power.