This nice story by Michael Hoffman in the Media ( ) section of the Japan Times takes a look at a hamlet that went solar. The main story is that an 11 household hamlet in Hyogo found 21 million yen in their 町内会 account, so decided to buy enough panels to produce the equivalent of the electricity consumption of these 11 homes. The writer is translating (and embellishing it here and there) the contents of an article in Josei Seven (thus the Media section) where is says:
Sanno is the first municipality in Japan to produce all its own electricity from renewable energy — a splendid declaration of independence while the nation wallows in nuclear angst, indecision and inertia.
Are 11 houses a municipality? It’s not a declaration of independence as they are still on the grid – if anything it’s a declaration of dependence on the solar subsidy. As far as I am aware, the current 21 yen per kilowatt over retail price is guaranteed for the full 20 years for installations of this type (domestic have a 10 year guarantee), so they are, I suppose, independent from government fiddling with the solar subsidy, as they surely will have to do in a few years.
Interestingly enough, though, the solar initiative originally had little to do with nuclear fears.
The intention was not to protest the government’s dull unresponsiveness in the wake of one of the world’s worst peacetime catastrophes of modern times, but, intentional or not, the protest sounds loud and clear.
So which is it? Little to do or nothing to do with nuclear fears? How is it a protest? It seems just like a cold, calculated business move, and I salute the old codgers for taking advantage of the over-generous buy-back scheme.
The writer then goes on to express his own anti-nuclear opinion:
The report appeared within days of Kepco’s dubious reactivation of Reactor No. 3 at Oi.
What’s a "dubious reactivation"? If there is dubiousness, it came from the government decision, Kepco were just following the order they had hoped to receive.
BTW, next year I am on our apartment block’s union committee, and I’ll be suggesting we bung up a few solar panels on our roof by investing our management fees for a few years in that rather than buying the reliable but boring savings bonds we currently do.