Akita: College students propose businesses that utilize offshore wind power

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Students are seen at a workshop held in Akita City on Sept. 9.

AKITA — University and graduate school students proposed ideas for businesses that utilize offshore wind power with the aim of revitalizing local communities, at a workshop held together with power generation operators in Akita City last month.

On Sept. 5, 36 students from Akita University, the University of Tokyo, Nagoya University and others joined a five-day workshop organized by a group of experts seeking to achieve public consensus in regions with offshore wind power facilities.

The students visited wind farms and engaged in group work in the cities of Akita, Yurihonjo and Noshiro in Akita Prefecture.

On Sept. 9, the final day of the workshop, they presented business ideas for five themes, including tourism and the fishing industry, at the Akita City Cultural Center. They spoke in front of corporate representatives and local government officials involved in the development of offshore wind power facilities in waters off the prefecture.

A group led by Atsuhiko Shimizu, 24, a second-year master’s student at Osaka University, gave a presentation with the title, “Achieving a sustainable fishing industry.” They said that through such measures as managing fishing areas around power generation facilities as closed fishing zones, fish catches could be stabilized to help solve the problems of declining incomes and a lack of successors in the fishing industry.

Proposals by other groups included one to utilize the government’s furusato nozei hometown tax system and another to build facilities for glamping — outdoor camping with amenities and comforts commonly found in hotels.

Yotaro Iwaki, 43, of Mitsubishi Corporation Offshore Wind Ltd., based in Tokyo, said he was impressed by how the students were able to produce the presentations in such a short period of time.