Kesennuma city is one of the worst-hit places in the Japan’s quake disaster, extremely damaged by tsunami and widespread fire. Kesennuma city reported more than 1,000 of its 70,000 citizens were dead and the figure of damaged housings rose to at least 15,000.
In Kesennuma city, “Smart City Project” was launched through collaboration between the local government and local companies. The project aims to promote city-planning including energy system redesigning and community building.
Mr. Masaki Takahashi, a president of Kesennuma Regional Energy Development Co., has been working on a new challenge to promote and industrialize renewable energy system with utilization of woody biomass. With a concept of “For the city of Forest, Ocean and Mountain”, Mr. Takahashi established a project to create biomass fuels using woody pellet from local thinned wood as an energy source. Electronic power plant using local unutilized wood resources is an unprecedented attempt in Japan.
They started “Forest Academy”, including a training lecture of how to use a chain saw, has brought a connection between local forest owners and those who want to start forestry business. They also created a monetary unit of local currency “Reneria” in order to circulate the benefits of the forestry business within the local community. As of now, Reneria can be used in more than 180 shops in Kessennuma city.
Ms. Yuko Goto joined this project as a Fellow from May 2012 after 15 years of engagement as a system planner in a big enterprise in Tokyo. Utilizing an abundant experience of designing operation and system development from past carrier, she took charge of developing the supply system of woody biomass fuels. She played a critical role in executing questionnaire surveys, holding training lectures, making purchasing rule of thinned wood and managing monetary unit of local currency. As a result, about 70 people participated in the workshop and they could gather 600 tons of lumber, which was a lot more than they had expected.
She is still remaining in Kesennuma city and continues implementing the project after one year Fellowship period.
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