By: Jake Richardson
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?