September 28, 2005

Japan's trade surplus

Japanese companies are not just talking about alternative fuel sources, they're doing something about it -- everything from solar cells to wind turbines. Taisei Corporation announced recently that it will start building an ethanol plant in Osaka, which will be capable of producing about 1,300 kiloliters annually when it opens in January 2006, and 4,000 kiloliters by 2008. The ethanol is added 3% to gasoline, for cleaner, richer burning fuel. Whereas in the USA, ethanol typically comes from corn, Taisei's ethanol will uniquely come from 48,000 tons of recycled wood from building demolitions.

Reduction in consumption. In the early 80's, long after the impetus provided by the second oil shock, Japan consumed about 250 million kiloliters of imported fuel and 85 terawatt hours of electricity, a bit over half what it consumes now. And yet, 20 years ago, Japan did more manufacturing at home than it does today.

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