Renewable Energy in Japan and US, Early Fall 2017

Photo of Osaka Castle with cherry blossoms in full bloom   Students at Wild Horse Power Plant in Ellensburg Washington


Program Dates: August 21 - September 18, 2017

Locations: August 21-31 at UW Bothell; September 4-18 at Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan

Program Director: Mahmoud Ghofrani, Electrical Engineering, STEM,

Program Co-Director: Hiroshi Miyamoto, Japanese Language,

Academic Credits: 5 credits of B EE 490 or BST 493


  • $3,200 program fee, which covers: 5 Autumn Quarter credits; local transportation, housing, most meals, cultural activities in Japan;
  • $250 study abroad fee;
  • ~$1,400 airfare;
  • $40 travel insurance;
  • Some meals in Japan;
  • Personal expenses at UW Bothell and while abroad

Additional Costs: airfare (~$1,400), travel insurance ($40), study abroad fee ($250), some meals in Japan, personal expenses at UW Bothell and while abroad.

***Financial aid and scholarships may be available to help with these costs***

Course Details

This early fall course explores the challenges and opportunities of deploying new energy technologies that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.  The geographic focus is Japan, and specifically the island of Shikoku, though comparison will also be made to the US and Pacific Northwest. 

Japan is an especially interesting case because of the sudden loss of nearly a third of the country’s electric power generating capacity when all nuclear plants were shut down after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant in March 2011.  Since then, electric utilities, regulators, and policymakers have scrambled to develop wind, solar, geothermal, ocean, and other alternative sources of energy, while also restructuring the electric power industry around a new regulatory framework that will increase competition and strengthen accountability.  In spite of Japan’s recent developments in sustainable energy deployments, significant technical and economic hurdles are yet to be addressed to increase renewables’ integration in Japan’s electric grid. 

The course begins with two weeks of study at UW Bothell.  Students will receive a primer in electric power generation with renewable and sustainable resources; learn about the principles, economics, technical and environmental aspects of renewable generation; and study the structure of the electric utility sector.  The focus, initially, will be the US and Pacific Northwest, with which students are likely to be most familiar.  An excursion to a nearby hydroelectric and/or wind/solar power generation site will be included. Emerging technologies such as energy storage systems and operational practices to handle technical difficulties of integration of intermittent resources such as wind and solar will be investigated. Students will also learn about the structure of the electric utility sector in Japan, the political and economic forces that have shaped its development and changes since the Fukushima disaster. 

In the second two weeks, students will be in residence at Ehime University.  Faculty and guest lecturers will speak to recent developments in Japanese energy policy, regional and national efforts to spur development of renewable energy, and local citizen movements to bring more transparency and accountability to decisions about the future of energy.  Visits to a local nuclear power plant and the island’s sole electric utility will give students first-hand insight into the views of key stakeholders.

Learning Goals

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  •  Describe renewable energy technologies now being developed, as well as ways non-renewable technologies may be used more sustainably.
  •  Identify and critique ways in which renewable and sustainable energy technologies are being deployed in Japan and the US.
  • Describe the organization and operation of the regulated electric utility in Japan, identify differences with the US, and understand the economic and political constraints under which it operates.
  • Identify the key stakeholders in the regulation and management of energy systems in Japan, describe the process in which stakeholder interests are translated into energy policy, and identify and explain differences with the US.
  • Appreciate, and engage, the voice of Japanese citizens and citizen movements in pressing for a more accountable, ethical, and sustainable energy system.
  • Participate in a more informed way in local and national decisions about the future of energy.

Information for Applicants

Pre-requisites: This course is designed for students interested in learning about developments in renewable energy technology and policy. All years and majors are welcome, but preference will be given to engineering students wanting to meet elective requirements in their degree programs. Applicants should be prepared for a rigorous interdisciplinary experience around culture, economics, politics, and science as they pertain to energy and energy policy. Students should be prepared for a moderate level of physical activity, especially walking and bicycling, while in Japan.

The application essay should demonstrate a commitment to learning across disciplines, curiosity about different cultures, and interest in conversing with peers here and in Japan about our collective energy future. Knowledge of Japanese is not required.

Application Process: This program is no longer accepting applications. Typically, the online application requires a resume, unofficial transcript and a personal statement. Be sure to read the course overview and prerequisites below.


What's the program like?

Check out blogs from UWB Study Abroad Ambassadors who participated in the program in previous years:

Derek Flett, 2017,

Muhammed Saleh, 2016,


Program Support

Natalia Dyba, Director of Global Initiatives


Study Abroad Advising

Philip Palios and Brittney Phanivong, Peer Study Abroad Advisors
Student Success Center UW1-160

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