Disasters as Opportunity for Change: Tsunami Recovery and Energy Transition in Japan

Mochizuki J & Chang S (2017). Disasters as Opportunity for Change: Tsunami Recovery and Energy Transition in Japan. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 21: 331-339. DOI:10.1016/j.ijdrr.2017.01.009.

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Abstract

Disasters may offer a window of opportunity, in which extraordinary circumstances create momentum for positive social change. While this potential is popularized through the concept of “building back better,” few studies have examined quantitatively the processes and drivers of broader social change in a post-disaster context. Using renewable energy transition (specifically, solar photovoltaic diffusion) as one measure of building back better, this study explores how pre-and post- disaster contexts, capacities, and policies affected recovery outcomes of 30 coastal communities nearly 5 years following the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster (Tohoku disaster). Our study shows that the disaster-affected communities adopted significantly more solar power than the rest of Japan following the introduction of the country's Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) system in 2012. The communities examined are highly diverse in their solar energy adoption as of 2015, and regression analysis was conducted to explain differences in overall solar energy diffusion as well as in adoption of very large scale mega-solar projects. The dynamic relationship between physical damage and subsequent solar adoption was found to be nonlinear, as was the relationship between degree of household relocation and solar energy adoption. Differences in communities’ mega-solar adoption were also explained by the variability in hazard zone designation and extent of physical damage. These findings suggest that a disaster may serve as an opportunity for positive community change when immediate impact (or the level of change involved in a reconstruction process) is high enough but not overwhelming. Overall, this study finds potentially complex relationships.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Disaster Recovery; Building Back Better; Change; Energy Transition; Tsunami; Japan
Research Programs: Risk & Resilience (RISK)
Risk, Policy and Vulnerability (RPV)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2017 14:24
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2017 14:49
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/14271

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