News & Notes
Japanese NPO Starts Residential Solar Co-Ownership ProjectMay 22 (Tue ), 2012
Japanese NPO Starts Residential Solar Co-Ownership Project
Copyright Ueda Citizen Energy
Ueda Citizen Energy, a non-profit organization (NPO) in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, started in November 2011 a unique project called Ainorikun (Japanese word meaning "car pool") for private investors to jointly install solar panels on sunny rooftop space. The NPO solicits "roof owners" to install their own panels while lending the rooftop space of their houses for "panel owners" who install the solar panels for their houses.
Both parties reap benefits: the panel owner receives income from selling electricity generated by the solar panels for 10 years after installation to cover the installation costs and then some, while the roof owner acquires ownership of the panel owners' panels 12 year after installation. Income from selling electricity generated by panel owners' panels for two years before the ownership changes will cover part of operation costs of the NPO. Panel owners can also purchase part of the ownership of a system by purchasing shares at 100,000 yen (about U.S.$1,300) a unit, and at 50,000 yen for additional ownership.
Ueda City is suitable for photovoltaic generation since it is one of sunniest areas in Japan. However, some residents there want to start solar generation but face barriers to doing so, such as poor access to direct sunlight, installation costs, and installation space. For them, the project connects those who want to increase solar power generation with those who want to lend their rooftop all over the country. Mayumi Fujikawa, the head of the NPO, hopes the project will help promote use of natural energy.