www.ntdtv.com reports from Ota City, some 80 kilometers north of Tokyo, one of Japan's sunniest spots. Since 1998, the city has invested in solar power, and Mika Hiroshima says her electrical appliances are mostly powered by solar energy: when they have some unused electricity left, they can sell it back to a local power company.
Ota City in Gunma prefecture has continued to push forward because it had a vision. It has not always been easy. Now, the Japanese government is planning to revive solar panel subsidies in 2009 and the new subsidies are expected to cover 10 percent of installation costs. As in other Asian countries (the Korean village Donggwang gets 100% of its power from the sun), investments in PV are expected to continue in Japan: local companies like Home Make are helping Japanese families make the right decisions, while Sharp, the world's No.2 maker of solar cells are trying to expand by tying up with Italy's Enel. Not easy when the economic outlook is cloudy and the future of solar could be beyond reach for most people.
Japan has earmarked 9 billion yen ($92 million) for solar panels for households in this year to March 2009. Its Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is seeking 24 billion yen ($246 million) for subsidies in the year starting April 2009, and estimates that about 100,000 homes would install solar panels next year, with the subsidy.
Forbes/Reuters: 'Solar City' proves allure of sun's energy in Japan
Reuters/IHT: Sharp plans joint solar venture with Enel
Written by Martin Frid at greenz.jp