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Course Title: Ecological and Environmental Fieldwork

Lecturers: Tomohiro Ichinose and Tomoko Doko

As part of the Environmental Innovator’s program, a number of students attended a 3-day fieldwork course in Fujiyoshida City during the summer break. The course was designed for the students to investigate ways that Fujiyoshida City could use their existing land and resources in the generation of renewable energy. The students were split into three groups; solar, hydropower and biomass. Through site visits and meetings with local government members, businesses & other organisations, the students were required to prepare and present proposals to Fujiyoshida City representatives on how the city could make use of renewable energy in the future. Below are interviews with representative from each of the three groups explaining the work they did and also their opinions on this fieldwork course.

Shoji Yo – Solar Group

1) What did you do on the fieldwork?
I belonged to the photovoltaic (PV) group and looked into the feasibility of installing a ‘Mega Solar’ energy plant on unused land in Fujiyoshida-city.
For the first two days, we performed surveys at potential sites and evaluated their PV potential. We also carried out interviews with various actors, including representatives from local businesses and local government, in order to develop a good business model. On the final day, we presented our findings and proposals to Fujiyoshida City staff.

2) What did you learn from this experience?
The course made me realize the importance of fieldwork.
1) Based on our fieldwork and interviews in Fujiyoshida City, we were able to create two well-developed proposals. Gaining experience in developing such proposals was very useful.
2) In Fujiyoshida city, a lot of potential areas have been identified as being suitable for the installation of ‘Mega Solar’ energy plants. I learnt that financing is extremely important and also that local businesses are willing to invest in such renewable sources of energy.
3) Through cost-benefit analysis, we learned that a 10-18 year payback period could be expected based on the original investment to install the solar panels.

3) Was it enjoyable?
Yes! Due to a typhoon, the fieldwork was extended by one day, but I did not mind as the fieldtrip was a lot of fun. Furthermore, Fujiyoshida City staff were very kind and offered considerable support and guidance.
It was a very good experience to be able to communicate directly with local governmental staff and also with local businesses and individuals. I was excited at having the opportunity to see the contents of the ‘Mount Fuji Radar Dome’ building on day one, and to be able to try numerous draft beers at the ‘Mount Fuji Beer Garden’ for lunch on the final day. It was also a great experience to spend four days with fellow students, including a number of international students. I am excited about making use of the knowledge I gained during this fieldwork and applying it to my study, Finally, there are many tourist attractions in Fujiyoshida City; it is a very attractive town. I hope to visit it again soon!

Wengbo Chen – Hydropower Group

1) What did you do on the fieldwork?
First, our group visited different water flow sites. At each site we measured the depth, width, head and velocity of the water. From this data we were able to calculate the hydropower potential of each site.
We then interviewed local government and local businesses, as well as visiting a local hydropower plant.

2) What did you learn from this experience?
I learned a lot about hydropower and I think Fujiyoshida City has a lot of potential for the generation of electricity from hydropower. I was able to gain valuable practical experience using technical instruments to get accurate measurements. I also discovered that local businesses and local authorities were interested in exploring this issue further. Interested parties included power generation company TEPCO.

3) Was it enjoyable?
Yes. I really enjoyed working within a team and it was rewarding to work on such an important issue as renewable energy. As a foreign student, it was also useful to work alongside Japanese students and learn from Japanese teachers. It was also the first time I had visited Fujiyoshida and the first opportunity I have had to see Fuji Mountain up close. Finally, Fujiyoshida udon was delicious!!

Matt Jones – Biomass Group

1) What did you do on the fieldwork?
We surveyed sample areas of Onshirin Forest in order to calculate the biomass potential for the forest. We also interviewed representatives from the Onshirin Forest Association and were able to get their opinion on the use of biomass for energy. They expressed a desire to make use of biomass as a source of energy. They informed us that the Forest Association grows mushrooms and, in the winter, this growing process requires heat. They proposed using biomass energy to provide this heat.

2) What did you learn from this experience?
I learned how to calculate the biomass potential for areas of forest. I also learned that biomass was not restricted for use in energy. Our proposals included using waste wood for the creation of souvenirs, housewares and ornaments. Furthermore we researched how biomass material could be used in the manufacture of PET bottles and this formed part of our final proposal to Fujiyoshida City. From the meeting with the Onshirin Forest Association, I also learned that cost was the biggest determining factor on how they would deal with biomass material.

3) Was it enjoyable?
It was very enjoyable. The reason I chose the EI programme at Keio SFC campus was because it had a focus on developing students’ practical skills. Despite the pouring rain on the second day, surveying different areas of forest was highly enjoyable and learning how to use various different technical instruments will undoubtedly prove useful in the future.
Visiting an outdoor onsen in the middle of a typhoon was an enjoyable bonus!