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Living with Fear in Fukushima

Residents of Fukushima Prefecture wonder if it’s safe to resume their lives

1 min read
Living with Fear in Fukushima
Photo: Eliza Strickland

Photo: Eliza Strickland
Fukushima Pride: During the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power station, all towns within a 30 kilometer radius of the plant were evacuated. Some of those towns have since been reinhabited; some remain off-limits. Beyond the evacuation zone, residents of Fukushima Prefecture struggle to get on with their lives amid fears of radiation. Are their homes safe to live in? Is the food safe to eat? Will their whole prefecture, which is as large as the state of Connecticut, be stigmatized as a fallout zone? At a recent festival held to draw tourists back to Fukushima, this woman showed her hometown pride.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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