"Are Methane Hydrates the Next Big Energy Source? Japan Hopes So."

Japan has successfully extracted natural gas from methane hydrates ("fire ice") 1,000 feet below the seabed.

"Japan is in a tough spot, energy-wise. The nation imports nearly all of its oil and natural gas. Most of its nuclear reactors have been shut down after Fukushima. Wind and solar are still in the early stages of ramping up.

That explains why the country is looking for energy in unexpected places. Japan is currently trying to tap into undersea deposits of methane hydrates — also known as “fire ice” — in hopes of converting the trapped methane into usable natural gas.

On Tuesday, Japan announced a major new breakthrough. For the first time, a team aboard the drilling ship Chikyu had successfully extracted gas from a layer of methane hydrates 1,000 feet below the seabed in the Eastern Nankai Trough."

Brad Plumer reports for the Washington Post's Wonkblog March 12, 2013.

SEE ALSO:

"An Energy Coup for Japan: ‘Flammable Ice’" (Washington Post)

Source: Wash Post, 03/13/2013