Turning golf into power

In an effort to boost renewable energy production and diversify its energy sources in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Japan is covering its many abandoned old courses in solar panels.

During Japan’s boom years, golf courses spread like a rash across the country, but when the bubble burst, many were unable to keep up with the huge costs associated with running a golf course on one of the world’s most densely-populated islands.

As a result, many lie abandoned, but renewable energy companies are seeing their potential as sources of power.

Multinational company Kyocera last week announced that they have started construction on a 23-megawatt ‘solar farm’, on a former golf course in Kyoto prefecture.

It’s due to start operating in September 2017, and will generate an estimated 26,312 megawatt hours every year – that’s enough electricity to power around 8,100 typical households in the area.

Kyocera and other companies are also developing an even bigger solar power plant, at another abandoned golf course in Kagoshima prefecture. This one’s set to open in 2018, and will produce almost four times as much power as its predecessor.

There’s hundreds of similar sites across Japan, owing to a severe over-development of golf courses in the past.


Is running daily OK?

In what ways does your body improve when you make a habit of running a few miles every day?

Note first of all that if you want to run, it’s actually better to run every other day than every single day. Running strengthens certain muscles, but if you run the same way every day, you’ll be training exactly the same muscles, and in the same way. It’s better to have a more varied schedule, to cross-train and to give yourself some time off.

Still, it’s better than nothing. It burns calories and increases cardiovascular fitness. As your muscles get acclimated to the effort, they will become stronger and have more endurance. You will find that you run the same distance in less time, and you should increase the distance to keep running for the same amount of time. Estimates vary, but the general advice is that you should exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a time in order to derive real benefit from it.

There’s definitely an advantage to doing something every single day, as it does become habit, which encourages you to keep doing it and to make time for it. That’s a mental change, not a physical one, but the mental benefits of running are at least as big as the physical ones.

Physically, running also appears to improve the overall strength of your bones and your joints. Bones respond to the stress of running by becoming denser and stronger. It is a myth that running damages joints; joint damage is caused by a lot of things as you get older, and running is seen in most studies to help the joints.