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Solar Project To Support Disaster-Affected Families In Ofunato
by Staff Writers
Bangkok, Thailand (SPX) Oct 23, 2012

Habitat for Humanity estimates that each household involved in the 'Solar Home Recovery Project' may save and earn up to JPY 1 million (approximately US$12,788) over ten years.

Global non-profit housing organization Habitat for Humanity has announced that it will partner with Hilti, provider of leading-edge technology to the global construction industry, and business and financial information provider Bloomberg, to develop a pilot solar project in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture, Japan.

The 'Solar Home Recovery Project' in its initial phase will see the installation of solar panels in up to 40 disaster-affected homes.

Hilti has committed start-up funding while Bloomberg has lent its expertise in Japan's solar market policies and trends. Bloomberg is a long-term global supporter of Habitat for Humanity's work through its philanthropic arm. Aktion Deutschland Hilft (ADH), a coalition of German relief organizations, is also providing financial support for the project.

Each family involved in the project will contribute towards the cost of their solar unit - an amount equivalent to what is available through the government rebate scheme - thereby enabling Habitat for Humanity to support more households.

"By installing solar panels in these homes, disaster-affected families are able to not only save on utility costs but make money by selling excess electricity to the regional utility provider as a result of the government's revised national scheme to encourage use of renewable energy," said Tomoya Kaji, Habitat for Humanity Japan's acting national director.

The savings and additional income source will provide some financial relief for the families participating in the project.

The lack of income-generating opportunities in the aftermath of the twin disasters is a serious issue in Ofunato.

"We are now looking for a technical partner to donate or sell discounted solar panels in order to support more families," he added.

On July 1 this year, Japan's 'feed-in-tariff' regulations kicked in, obligating its 10 regional power utility companies to buy electricity generated by wind and solar projects at a fixed rate of 42 Japanese Yen (JPY) per kilowatt-hour (kWh), approximately US$0.53 per kWh.

The move followed the closure of Japan's last nuclear reactor in May which resulted in an electricity shortfall which the government is targeting to fill by tapping renewable energy sources.

Habitat for Humanity estimates that each household involved in the 'Solar Home Recovery Project' may save and earn up to JPY 1 million (approximately US$12,788) over ten years.

This calculation is based on the amount saved in energy bills and income earned from the feed-in-tariff scheme, and will vary according to the size of the home and family.

Experts have cited the Japanese government's feed-in-tariff scheme as one of the world's most aggressive renewable energy policies, due to its generous subsidies. Similar schemes have led to rapid growth of solar energy in countries such as Spain, Italy and Germany.

Japan's focus on renewable energy sources has led to a rush of investment in the industry, with soaring sales of solar or photovoltaic cells and solar panels.


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