Japan is 10th in the world in geothermal energy, with 540 Megawatt installed capacity as of 2022, generating 0.3 of total electricity. This article will explore the Japanese government’s aspirations and approach to advancing the use of this energy source. I will list the largest geothermal power plants, the top companies spearheading the sector and challenges hindering the growth of the geothermal energy industry.


The Japanese government 2021 set a target to attain 36 to 38 per cent of its electricity generation from renewable energy sources by 2030. It aims to generate 14-16 % from solar energy, 5 % from wind energy, 11 % from hydropower, 4 % from nuclear and 1 % from geothermal energy. Finally, it intends to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Small Geothermal Plants:

  • Sansui Geothermal Power Plant is in Oguni, Kumamoto, owned by Baseload Power Japan and developed in partnership with Furusato Power Generation. It has been operational since May 2022, boasting a capacity of 150 kilowatts and generating 350 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.
  • Onikobe Geothermal Power Station is in Osaki City, built in 1975. Closed in 2017, the facility underwent renovation by J Power. Subsequently, commercial operations commenced in April 2023, boasting a capacity of 14.9 megawatts.
  • Nakao Geothermal Power Plant is in OKuhida Onsengo, Takayama City. Developed by Nakao Geothermal Power CO. Ltd., construction commenced in 2021, and commercial operations began in November 2022 with a capacity of 1.9 megawatts.
  • Minami-Aso Yunotani Geothermal Power Plant is in Minamiso village. Operated by Renova Inc., commercial operations for the facility commenced in March 2023, featuring a 2-megawatt capacity.

Key Geothermal Manufacturers:

  • Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Minato City, Tokyo, was set up in 1939. It is a leader in geothermal technology with expertise in building highly efficient geothermal turbines.
  • Mitsubishi Power, headquartered in Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo, was founded in 2014. It is known for building high-performance and reliable technologies for geothermal power plants and offering engineering, procurement, and construction services.
  • Fuji Electric, headquartered in Shinagawa City, Tokyo, was founded in 1923. Their speciality is building flash steam and binary cycle steam geothermal power generation systems.
  • J-Power Group, headquartered in Chuo City, Tokyo, was created in 1952. It is an electric utility producing electricity from coal, hydropower, wind energy, solar energy, and geothermal energy.
  • Geothermal Development & Investment Inc., headquartered in Minato-Ku, Tokyo, was founded in 2015. They develop geothermal energy projects and invest in them.


  • The biggest obstacle is the high upfront cost of building a geothermal power plant. For example, the development of the Hacchobaru plant incurred a cost of $3.7 billion and required twenty years to recoup the investment.
  • The second issue is the location of the geothermal resources. For instance, most geothermal resources are situated in picturesque mountainous terrains, often designated national parks where power stations are not permitted.
  • The third obstacle involves the inadequate comprehension and acceptance of geothermal energy. For instance, local communities express concerns about potential seismic risks, such as earthquakes and the depletion of underground water.


In Japan, geothermal energy plays a minor role among renewable energy sources. With an installed capacity of 540 Megawatts, the nation will see 1% electricity generation from geothermal by 2030, signifying that geothermal energy will have a small contribution to the carbon-neutral vision by 2050. Notable projects like the Sansui and Nakao plants signify small-scale commitment. Industry leaders, including Toshiba and Mitsubishi Power, drive technological advancements. Numerous challenges, including high initial expenses, restricted suitable locations, and public apprehension, hinder the widespread adoption of geothermal energy. Overcoming these barriers is imperative for Japan to realize the full potential of geothermal energy in its sustainable energy landscape.

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