TOKYO-2017 Science / Environment

Changing Perspectives - Renewable Energy in Japan

  • Prize
    Bronze in Science/Environment
  • Photographer
    Jamey Stillings

CHANGING PERSPECTIVES is a connected set of photography projects I am working on over a period of several years. Beginning with two earlier projects, The Bridge at Hoover Dam (2009-2010) and The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar (2010-2014), my work now primarily focuses on renewable energy development. Photography in this submission features work created in Japan. Japan's approach to stewardship of its land and water resources is distinct from the United States. As an island nation with a millennia-long history, the concepts of reuse, repurposing, and multiple-use are intrinsic to Japanese culture. In addition, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster caused Japan to reassess its dependence on nuclear power as a primary source of electricity generation. Building renewable energy capacity, predominantly in the form of photovoltaic projects, has become one answer in their quest for alternatives. In August 2016, with an opportunity to visit Japan as a guest artist at the Mount Rokko International Photo Festival, my staff and I researched and planned a series of aerial shoots around Tokyo and Kobe/Osaka. During these flights, I encountered a wide range of photovoltaic projects on former golf courses, quarries, dams, man-made islands, and floating projects on ponds and reservoirs. Projects were interspersed in urban and suburban communities, industrial zones, and forested areas in unique and visually compelling ways. While renewable energy projects in Japan are small in comparison to large utility-scale projects in the United States, I feel it adds a new chapter to our ongoing conversation about energy, climate change, and the imperative of creating a sustainable future.