32 Japanese Supermarkets To Get Rooftop Solar Power Systems

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Solar Power Network is a distributed power company with offices in Tokyo and Canada, which is partnering with Trial Company to develop 32 rooftop solar power systems on supermarkets at a number of sites in Japan — the first has already been completed. Trial Company, Inc. operates the stores and is located in Fukuoka City, Japan; Solar Power Network is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. SPN generously answered some questions about the supermarkets project.


1. Where are the supermarkets located?

32 supermarkets are located throughout Japan, from northern Iwate prefecture to very southern Kumamoto prefecture.

2. Why focus on developing rooftop solar for supermarkets?
Because creating energy where it’s needed is the only economic solution for clean, reliable and grid de-congesting electricity. Distributed generation is foundational to the smart grid of the future, moving us beyond the remote, utility-scale power of nuclear, thermal, and wind, as well as mega solar.

3. How long will it take to complete all the solar installations?
It takes about 18 months for us to complete a site.

4. Approximately what is the size of each supermarket’s solar power system?
Depends on the store, but approximately from 300 to 400 kW. A total of 32 stores produce 12.5 MW.

5. Will the electricity generated by the solar power systems be used by the stores, or will they sell it back to the grid?
All the electricity is sold to the local utilities under the FIT (Feed-in-Tariff) program in Japan.

6. What role will Trial Company play in the supermarket solar project?
Leasing their rooftops to SPN.

7. When the project is finished, do you envision installing more solar power systems on supermarkets in Japan?
Yes. We are vigorously looking for new sites. As said at question 3, supermarkets are one of the best buildings for on-site generation. It’s not like building a solar facility in a remote corner of the country where power is scarcely needed, and sending the electricity to an area where power is needed is expensive, too.

8. Would you expect that having solar power systems on supermarkets generates some good PR for those establishments?
Yes. There is a general concern about the use of nuclear energy after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and the Fukushima nuclear plant accident that followed. The renewable energy has a very positive reputation in Japan, maybe more acutely so than in the West. The consumers generally have a “good feel” to anything to do with solar, again, far more acutely so than in the West.

9. What is the size of SPN, as in the number of employees?
45 employees.

Image Credit: Solar Power Network

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

CleanTechnica Holiday Wish Book

Holiday Wish Book Cover

Click to download.

Our Latest EVObsession Video

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JakeRsol

Jake Richardson has 1008 posts and counting. See all posts by Jake Richardson

33 thoughts on “32 Japanese Supermarkets To Get Rooftop Solar Power Systems

  • Every building that can support solar power should be retrofitted with a solar power system. Decentralizing the electrical grid is cheaper, and allows us to shut down all our dirty coal, natural gas, and nuclear power stations with their waste storage issues. Japan has learned the lesson that nuclear power is unsafe, too expensive, and produces nuclear waste which must be stored for 100,000 years. Solar and wind which have come down in price dramatically are the best options for Japan which due to limited land will have to develop floating wind turbines and solar power plants.

    • Yeah, I’d like to see that happen. But we will have to start adjusting things if we do that. We’ll have to adjust net-metering systems to get people to pay a little more for the grid maintenance. We’ll have to install more storage so that we can time-shift some of the collected energy for the 5-to-9pm peak. We’ll have to upgrade the grid in certain locations as needed. But it is all very do-able.

      • Why should people who do net metering pay more for grid maintenance? How do you determine what someone’s “share” of grid maintenance costs is? Why not charge everyone a grid maintenance fee? I could see max usage charges (leading to peak shaving), remoteness charges (leading to microgridding), and/or time-based pricing. To me, the most obvious thing to do is to split the generators from the grid maintenance cos. because utilities are GUARANTEED a return on capital investment, so they want to do all of the grid investment to maximize their return. This encourages them to do everything they can to _discourage_ grid investment by their partners/customers. They tend to try to promote price uncertainty, add unjustified grid maintenance charges on customers who have the temerity to invest, and use their lobbying muscle to set the rules to distort the electricity market.

    • Do You Want To Make Money Like Google and Facebook? It’s easy you just have a internet connection and a p.c to earn money…Click below link for more details

      =========>>>> Run to my account for more information

  • Whenever I read articles like this, I ask myself why they can’t do this everywhere. More and more, it seems like the answer is “They can.”

    • Indeed, they can. I do. More people should.

    • Same here, I look at the massive space on the rooftops of business parks and shopping mall etc and think “what a waste”

  • Japan was such a laggard on renewable energy for such a long time. And then after Fukushima happened, they got off their butts and got working on it. I guess that is a silver-lining to that horrible radioactive cloud.

    • And the 300 tons of radiated water dumped a day til 2042..
      There is also the silver lining of cancer rates reaching 1 in 18, less people less power needed?

      • Link to cancer rate, for what population? It’s more useful to point to actual data with details than general scary statistics.

        • About one in four Japanese people use to die from cancer, so getting it down to 1 in 18 is quite an achievment. Nuclear contamination for everyone!

          • Lol. Yes indeed. Whereas journalists would use title “Cancer rates skyrocket over past 50 years” a scientist might title it “More people live old enough to get cancer”.

  • I wouldn’t mind solar power being sold on the inside of supermarkets either, as it stands Ikea does.

    • Wouldn’t it leak out of one’s shopping cart?

      • HaHa.

  • All commercial buildings in appropriate locations should be fitted with rooftop PV panels. Utility solar may be more profitable in formerly pristine locations but generating energy where it’s used should always be our first priority.

    • Yep. Many people talk about how big utility scale solar PV is cheaper to install. But I can’t see how that make a lot of sense. Now sure . . . installing a massive repetitive solar PV array can be cheaper because it is a more simple install, you get a volume discount on the equipment, and you only need a single permit for the big project.

      However, don’t they need to pay a lease fee for that land they are using? Don’t they also have to run a transmission line from that utility scale solar PV plant to other substations? Wouldn’t those two costs kill off the advantages of simpler install?

      • With a large scale utility installation you can use specialized equipment that makes the work more efficient. Your crews stay in one place, what you need is there, it’s just do the same thing over and over and over. With rooftop you’ve got to move to the site, set up, install a few kW, tear down, pack up, move…

        Apparently one of the reasons that Germany installs cheaper is that with their very high demand their crews don’t have to move far from job to job. The next one is just down the block, not on the other side of town.

        • German prices have stayed flat while demand crashed (pilot error). They would have fallen, tracking world equipment prices, if demand had stayed high; but your travel cost effect looks very limited.

        • I really don’t think the travel cost is a big issue, it is more the fact that each & every rooftop solar PV system requires a unique design, a unique new permit, and it is more difficult to work on a roof than it is to work on flat ground.

          But there are some savings . . . you don’t need to do cement foundation work, you don’t need a transmission line (since the building is already connected to the grid), you are more efficiently using the land (it is for both a building AND solar PV).

          I share Ronald’s fear above though . . . that utilities just want to do utility scale solar PV whether not it is more efficient because that way they don’t lose more paying utility customers. They get to make the money instead of the building owner. Utilities might point to the cheaper installation cost of utility scale solar PV as a reason to kill off net-metering programs.

      • Dag, looking at a place such as Australia, rooftop solar is clearly cheaper than utility scale solar. This is currently the case when looking at the cost per watt to install solar, but looking at the cost per watt is not the correct way to determine if something is cheaper. What is important is the rate of return on investment. And in Australia at least, the rate of return is far higher on point of use solar than on utility scale solar and is higher than the rate of return on utility scale solar can be. So if and when utility scale solar becomes cheaper per watt than rooftop solar, or much cheaper per watt – going by rate of return which is the proper way to look at it if one is making economic decisions, rooftop solar will still be cheaper.

        Just to be clear, I am in favour of anything that reduces fossil fuel consumption and reduces the number of children that Australia quite happily drowns in order to support its coal industry. Wasting money by building utility scale solar instead of point of use solar is a trivial problem compared to destroying agriculture or creating heat waves that unprotected humans cannot survive, which is what we are currently doing.

        • Most utility scale projects use trackers, so get more energy per watt of capacity. That needs to be taken into consideration.

          • In Australia solar electricity consumed point of use is worth about 25 centaroos a kilowatt-hour while electricity produced by utility scale solar is only worth a few centaroos. The average for Australia at around noon today was around 4.2 centaroos. That’s about 3 US cents. So tracking won’t and can’t make utility scale solar cheaper than rooftop in Australia.

          • That doesn’t tell you what it cost, just what the rate structure allows.

          • It costs the person using grid electricity around 25 centaroos. That’s pretty clear. On my electricity bill $0.313 dollarydoos. Okay it’s not that clear because the marginal rate actually averages to about $0.275 dollarydoos and with supply charges it is about $0.42 dollarydoos. But whatever it comes to, that’s a cost to the consumer. The rate of return on rooftop solar depends upon the rate structure grid connect consumers are subject to, and will change if that rate structure changes but that’s unavoidable.

        • Thanks for pointing out the ROI. Maybe two metrics should always be included when discussing new projects. PPA and ROI?

          • Well, the PPAs are fine for comparing like with like. We can compare the PPA from utility scale solar with other utility scale forms of generation. But working out the ROI is often difficult as we often don’t have enough information to do it and often in fact have to work backwards from the PPA. So just as long as people realise that the cost of utility scale solar and point of use solar aren’t directly comparable per watt, we should be fine.

            Now rooftop solar has the ability to kill coal generation in Australia because people have an incentive to install enough to produce much more than their average daytime electricity use even if they get paid nothing for the electricity they export to the grid. This means all daytime electricity demand could end up being met by rooftop solar, which would utterly destroy the economics of coal power plants. But utility scale solar doesn’t work that way. It is dependent upon the wholesale electricity price to be build, and if that gets too low no one will build anymore.

            My nightmare is, Australian electricity generators will build a few gigawatts of utility scale solar, claim they are being green, and then more or less have rooftop solar banned and Australia will continue to be mostly powered by coal. Realistically I think they are running out of steam and won’t be able to do that, but they, and by they I mean the coal industry and incumbent generators, did manage to have our carbon price scrapped and cut our Renewable Energy Target, so who knows what they might achieve if they win the election because the leader of the opposition was photographed having sex with too many koalas.

          • lol. Politicians will have sex with anything.

          • How many koalas is too many? At least if they try to molest kangaroos, the problem is self-correcting.

          • According to the latest polls, 18 koalas would be enough for the median voter to reconsider their preferences. That’s the largest number of koalas requried to date and just goes to show the significance of the Tony Abbott effect.

  • I would have liked to know do each of these stores produce more electricity than they use and if so do what type of agreement, in money terms, do they have with the local utilities.

  • How would solar compare to a green roof approach? Here in Toronto our Union Station is rebuilding a huge train shed with a green roof, I wonder if solar would have been a better approach… Either way at least they are doing a green roof but I am just wondering out loud, thoughts?

    • Green roofs aren’t really in the same category of stuff as rooftop solar. One builds a green roof when one wants to have something pleasant and one installs solar panels when one wants to generate electricity and save money on air conditioning, as solar panels are very good at preventing heat from entering a building.

      Green roofs can be very expensive and whether or not they are worth it depends on what value one places on beauty.

Comments are closed.