SAPPORO, Japan (AP) — Japan and the United States agreed Saturday to cooperate in developing geothermal energy, one of the most abundant resources on this chain of volcanic islands.

The compromise memorandum was signed on Saturday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of Seven energy and environment ministers in the northern city of Hokkaido.

Japan’s famous hot springs reflect its abundant geothermal activity, but the spas and resorts clustered around them have slowed efforts to harness the resource for power.

The pact signed by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura says geothermal energy is recognized as a “renewable energy technology that the United States and Japan can work together to advance”.

It calls for collaborative research and development and information sharing and the pursuit of geothermal projects in the US, Japan, and other countries. It is one of a variety of areas in which the two countries intend to collaborate to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

“The prospects for offshore wind power are enormous. Geothermal prospects. We are very excited to partner with Japan on these types of issues,” Granholm said in a statement. interview with The Associated Press the Friday before the G-7 meetings.

The agreement did not specify expected expenses, but said that each party would bear the costs associated with its own activities.

Adding more geothermal power could make it possible for Japan to provide 90% of its power generation from renewable sources, according to an estimate by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. That would equate to a 92% reduction in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, he said in a recent study.

So far, Japan’s geothermal capacity has been underutilized: It has dozens of small power plants powered by the steaming hot springs spread across the country, but together they account for less than 1% of its total power generation capacity.

Both Japan and the US are looking to export geothermal technology.

Japanese companies are participating in a joint project to build what is expected to be the world’s largest geothermal power plant, in Sumatra, Indonesia, with 320 gigawatts of electricity.

Biomass and geothermal also contribute less than 1% of US generating capacity, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.

The United States has the highest estimated geothermal potential, according to Japan’s National Industrial Institute of Science and Technology, followed by Indonesia and Japan. But Japan ranks ninth in installed geothermal power generation capacity, while the US is the world leader.

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