Japanese firms considering geothermal plants in Fukushima via Reuters

(Reuters) – Japanese firms are looking at building several geothermal plants in a volcanic zone in the area worst hit by last year’s nuclear disaster, a project that could gain momentum after the government eased restrictions on drilling this week.

The head of a group of firms that have studied the potential of a geothermal project in Fukushima said on Friday a consortium of about 10 companies would meet local people by early May to explain their plans to build plants with a total capacity of 270 megawatts, which would be Japan’s biggest.

The consortium plans to work with local communities, including those who run hotels and inns at hot springs, to develop geothermal energy, Masaho Adachi, the chairman of Japan Geothermal Developers’ Council said.

The council has already held a meeting with local government officials in the central zone of Fukushima, home to the nuclear plant crippled by an earthquake and tsumani last year, he said.

Along with high costs, protests by local communities fearful of the impact of a geothermal plant on hot springs have prevented such projects from taking off in the past.

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