Are solar panels Tokyo’s answer to reaching their 2050 carbon targets?

Are solar panels Tokyo's answer to reaching their 2050 carbon targets?

The Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, announced a mandate for installing solar panels on newly constructed buildings from April 2025. Although the legislation applies to residential and commercial buildings, responsibility will not fall on individuals but on 50 building companies whose projects total more than 20,000 square metres. Exceptions will be made under inefficient conditions for new buildings e.g., small roof areas or buildings in a shadow with insufficient sunlight. Although existing buildings are not be required to introduce solar panels, subsidies will be offered to encourage the use of solar power in existing buildings, including financial incentives for homeowners who install solar panels.  

What issue does this policy address

Japan has struggled to meet renewable energy targets and hopes that introducing this policy will bring them closer to their targets. Tokyo accounts for 4.7% of the nation’s CO2 emissions. Currently, only 4% of buildings with the potential to generate solar energy are installed with solar panels. Utilising Tokyo’s solar potential will help to reduce the dependency on non-renewable energy among its 14 million residents. Japan has heavily relied on thermal power from coal since most of the country’s nuclear reactors were closed in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Masanari Furudate, the Metropolitan gov. official in charge of environmental city planning has stated that climate change and the war in Ukraine, have added a sense of urgency to shift to renewables.   

Details of this project

  • The project will cover half of the 46,000 homes constructed annually and aims to increase solar energy capacity by 50% by 2030.   
  • Approximately costing JPY 5 billion (£31 million)  
  • Generating an expected 60 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. It is forecasted that this will be enough to power 15,000 households.    
  • The goal is to increase the use of renewable energy to 20% by 2030. And to reduce energy consumption in newly built homes by 70% compared to 2030.   
  • The policy is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40,000 tons annually and is part of Tokyo’s larger goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.   

Similar cases

  • San Francisco– from January 2017, all new buildings in the city with ten floors or fewer must have either solar PV or solar thermal panels installed
  • Paris– Beginning in July 2023, parking lots containing 80 to 400 spaces must have photovoltaic shades 
  • Kyoto – In 2012, Kyoto introduced a mandatory law for new or renovated buildings with a floor space of at least 2000 sqm to include solar panels. This was reduced to 300 sqm this year.   

How Firstplanit will support this movement

 The environmental and monetary benefits of Solar panels are obvious, especially as energy costs are rising and the price per unit of solar panels is decreasing. Very soon, Firstplanit will release a library of Solar Panels evaluated on a whole host of criteria, including durability, energy efficiency, country of origin, take back schemes and toxicity. After all, we don’t want to deplete our natural resources or generate vast amounts of waste as we tap into renewable energy. 

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