Editor’s Note: Japan is struggling to define its future energy policy. The island nation is at a crossroads. Political sentiment following the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami is moving it away from its once heralded nuclear power program. Like Hawaii, efforts to boost renewable energy are in high gear. Civil Beat’s Joe Rubin is in the country on an international journalism fellowship to learn how Hawaii could benefit from Japan’s intensive program to harness renewable energy.

Joe sent us this vlog (a video blog) about his travels in the Kyushu region. In the city of Fukuoka, Rubin met up with Yuji Oyha, a professor of renewable energy dynamics and applied mechanics at Kyushu University. Oyha and his team are developing a whole new way to harness wind energy.

The technology is called the wind lens. It focuses wind energy to the point that the resulting energy output is two to three times that of conventional wind turbines. It also has other advantages that could make it appealing to a place like Hawaii. The wind lens is much quieter and smaller than your typical wind turbine. Birds can also see it so bird strikes are greatly minimized, Oyha said. While the scientist hasn’t figured out how to make the wind lens as large as conventional turbines, he says he will get there and has big ambitions to populate Japan and the world with his innovative renewable energy device.

Additional photos video are by Junko Takahashi.

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