At 2:46 p.m. local time on Friday, March 11, 2011, Japan was rocked by the largest earthquake ever to strike its shores. The 9.1 magnitude quake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people. It also took out the back-up emergency generators that cooled the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex, causing a series of catastrophic meltdowns.
But amid the chaos, the Yanaizu-Nishiyama geothermal power plant in Fukushima prefecture didn’t miss a beat. Along with two more of the nine geothermal power plants in the region, the 65-megawatt facility continued to generate power, even as many other power plants around them failed because of damaged equipment and transmission lines.
Geothermal might not have the flashiness of solar or wind, but it’s the solid, steady workhorse of the renewable energy race.