Solar Apartments – the latest trend in Japan

Tokyo Institute of Technology Unveils New Facade Decked Out in 4,500 Solar Panels!

Tokyo Institute of Technology Unveils New Facade Decked Out in 4,500 Solar Panels!

Japan was nuke-bombed by USA during the World War II not once but twice… then USA went ahead and stopped Japan from forming its own army. For any protection they needed they will have to depend upon their own enemy… USA… for help. This was a biggest insult any nation could face… It was then that Japan decided to destroy USA with what was left with them… their financial, & commercial power.

Japan made huge plans to compete with American Electronics and Automobile industry and make better products at cheaper price. It was this thrust that made Panasonic & Toyota household names. Products coming from a country that the world hardly knows much about. Nobody doubted the quality of Japanese product and nobody dares to doubt it even today. Japan is a brand by itself… its a brand for honesty, hard work and “no-tips” culture and people over the years have come to respect it.

But the destruction of US economy was achieved only by China who went one step ahead and made all kinds of products at very low rates… products that need not be repaired but just “use-and-throw”. The quality of chinese products are very low as also is their price. Today China ships almost all products… from staple-wire to airplane… to every single country on the face of the earth. China “single-handed-ly” destroyed the Industrial economy of US & Europe. Call it China’s reaction to Tinanman square “revolution-protest” instigated by US.

But in the year 2011 Japan was once again nuked under the guise of a tsunami. What many report the explosion at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was brought about by installation of “oversize cameras” strongly resembling gun-type nuclear weapons.

Fukushima Daiichi reactor-3 explosion

Fukushima Daiichi reactor-3 explosion

This blast has completely devastated and finished Japan as a country and the population could in the next 50 yrs be exterminated completely. There will be a huge dip in the birth rate in Japan over the next 50yrs. Whether the existing folks and their children can survive the effects only time can tell. But then Japan is the only country in the World that can deal with Radiation Effects with experience. Any other country in the world would have been obliterated from the face of the Earth but not Japan.


Once bitten twice shy… but twice bitten now what? Bounce back higher… that’s what Japan has done and done it with such frenzy that has completely bewildered the energy industry. Japan decided to replace all their nuke-reactors with renewable energy. While most of the world has been in favor of large scale industries to set up Solar plants occupying large tracts of land Japan has decided to cover each and every apartment roof with Solar Panel. If they can do that they will never need Nuclear power! Never again will the mistake be repeated. This is what makes Japan different from other countries.

The work is huge and is on its way and by doing so they succeed in removing the service, maintenance and cleaning part out of the expenses. The people/community who directly benefit from the panels will take care of cleaning and maintaining the panels in all weather conditions. This is a labour-intensive task and takes up a third cost of the installations. One can easily divide the panels in three parts:

Cost of PV installation

Cost of PV installation

  1. Cost of Solar Panels, Aluminum frames & its mounting, wiring, etc – One time cost.
  2. Cost of Battery & its replacement – Peroidic Cost
  3. Cost of manpower & water for maintaining the panels over the years – Permanent cost.

Thus over 25 yrs the labour & water cost which is a perpetual/permanent cost will cost more than the actual cost of the Solar Panels.

The best thing about renewable energy is that the energy can be deployed within days or weeks while for Nuclear plant the time required is calculated in decades.

In less than two years after Fukushima melted down, the country more than doubled its solar generating capacity. According to METI, developers installed nearly 10 gigawatts of renewable generating capacity through the end of April 2014, including 9.6 gigawatts of photovoltaics. (The nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi had 4.7 gigawatts of capacity.). Thus they doubled the capacity within 2 yrs. This would have been impossible to do by builiding a Nuke-Reactor or Conventional Energy like Oil/Gas based plant.

A stadium in Japan designed by Toyo Ito. Its dragon-scale roof is made up of 8,000 panels, said to be enough to power up to 80% of the surrounding neighborhood

A stadium in Japan designed by Toyo Ito. Its dragon-scale roof is made up of 8,000 panels, said to be enough to power up to 80% of the surrounding neighborhood

Solar apartments”, or apartment buildings equipped with roof-top solar panels, are becoming the latest trend in the Japanese residential real-estate industry. A number ofsolar apartments are already speckling Japanese cityscapes across the country, with many more planned for the coming year.

Leading the charge is the development company Takara Leben, whose first solar apartment went on sale last June in the city of Wako, near Tokyo. Almost immediately the new development sold out, with eager home-buyers scrambling to buy up one of its 112 units.

Currently, the maximum height for solar apartments is about 6 stories. Any higher than that and the building would be less efficient at delivering solar power to its tenants, since the amount of electricity generated is correlated with the surface area of the roof.

Whenever the conditions allow, we want all our new apartments fitted with solar panels.” That’s the new mantra in Japan!

Japan Solar City

Japan Solar City

The new solar apartments are less reliant on grid power and come equipped with large batteries in case there is a power outage. But in addition to assuaging people’s fears about being out of power following a disaster, the new apartments are also much cheaper in the long-term.

According to Takara Leben, its new solar apartment can cut electricity bills by 56%. For some people, this would decrease their energy bill from ¥14,035 a month to ¥6,150 a month (from $170 to $70 US).

Japanese solar photovoltaic “PV” installations have now passed 10 GW for cumulative PV capacity, only the fifth country to reach the mark. Of the previous four — Germany, Italy, China, and the US. In Germany lack of sunshine is no obstacle to scaling up solar energy. In fact if the Germans can produce record amounts of solar power under grey skies, then the potential for countries with sunnier weather and more landmass, such as Australia, is limitless.

The sad part is that although Japan had led the design of photovoltaics in the 1980s and launched the global solar industry in the 1990s. But now have to settle for importing the millions of panels being installed from outside the country. Even some Japanese manufacturers, including early market leader Sharp, have taken to buying panels produced abroad and selling them in Japan.

How Japan­­—once the world’s most advanced semiconductor producer and a pioneer in using that technology to manufacture photovoltaic cells—gave away its solar industry is a sad story of national insecurity, monopoly power, and money-driven politics. It is also a tale with important lessons for those who believe that the strength of renewable technologies will provide sufficient incentives for countries to transform their energy habits.

History of Japan's Solar Research

History of Japan’s Solar Research

In Japan, for most of the 2000s, impressive advances in photovoltaics were ignored because the country’s powerful utilities exerted their political muscle to favor nuclear power all this despite resurging consumer demand for solar power and strong public disdain for nuclear, the same thing could happen again.

It could happen to any country with Oil/Gas/Nuclear strength. Tomorrow they might suddenly find themselves in situation that would push them away from solar/renewable energy and depend upon fossil fuel.

My question today is will India take advantage of its technical expertise and start bigger factories to create solar panels? Or will we expect other countries to do this for us? This could be done by the Government or by providing multi-million loans. This will encourage the existing local producer of photovoltaics. The loans taken in foreign exchange affect us a lot as not only we keeping higher exchange rate every year but also these countries start meddling in the economic policies of our country.

Cost of PV Electricity Cost

If government starts bonds as a means of Investments with a lock in period of 10 to 25 yrs and a annual interest of 12% it will surely attract huge investments from NRIs. It is only because the low existing rate of Interest of Fixed Deposits in Government Departments like Post Office that people put huge amount of money in other financial institutions. Even then most of these savings instruments have limits of how much you can invest in it. Meaning if a person wants to Invest 10 Crores he can only invest 2 Lakhs. How stupid is that? So how can you attract investment?

But how do you tell it to a government that believes that the people of the country has to “spend their money” and not “save their money” so that the economy booms!


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