Welcome to Kusatsu, a Japanese resort with a long history. Every year the city is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists eager to plunge into the local onsen (hot springs). The city is also loved by the older generation for its mountain air and healing waters.
As the 2020s drew to a close, the Kusatsu authorities realized that demand for electricity was growing, and supplying residents and visitors was becoming increasingly problematic. Ecologists and power engineers from Iceland came to the rescue, building several state-of-the-art geothermal plants operating on volcanic activity.
A few years later, the local administration faced a California-style “duck curve” — a sharp rise in energy consumption in the evening. The solution lay in burying a set of next-generation capacitors underground to accumulate electricity during the day.
Changes in infrastructure displaced traditional automobiles from Kusatsu’s roads — in mountainous terrain, flying electrocars are handier, cheaper, and faster. Tourists and elderly folk were delighted. The city rid itself of smog — and car sickness — and mountainside selfies clocked up likes in social networks (yes, pensioners still have active online lives!).
Kusatsu’s experience became a model for other mountainous regions of Japan, where it is easier to extract energy from underground than supply it from neighboring prefectures.