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Solar apartments are the hot, new trend in Japan

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The triple disaster of earthquake-tsunami-nuclear hit Japan has helped fuel demand for residential apartments equipped with solar panels.

In post-Fukushima nuclear disaster Japan, apartment developers have aggressively promoted residential buildings equipped with rooftop solar panels. Now demand has taken off and solar apartments have quickly become the hot, new trend in Japan, the New York Times reported.

The concept of solar apartments was around before the triple disaster of earthquake-tsunami-nuclear hit Japan last year. But it wasn't until after the March 11 nuclear disaster and ensuing power grid outages, that interest in solar apartments translated into sales and a burgeoning market. For example, Tokyo-based apartment developer Takara Leben put its first solar apartment up for sale in June. A company executive told the NYT the solar apartment building, where units were priced between $350,000 to $470,000, sold almost instantly. The company has five additional solar apartment projects in the works.

Like any trend, there's a certain amount of hype surrounding solar apartments. But new apartment owners say claims of lower electricity bills have panned out. Takara Leben says six panels per household for most of its apartment in Tokyo and Yokohama will cut electricity bills 56 percent in a typical four-person household, based on a simulation by Tokyo Electric Power.

Other companies have reported similar demand for these solar apartments, which are typically equipped with control panels and a display that compares power generation and use on a month-to-month and year-to-year basis.

The market for solar apartments is restricted somewhat by the size of the building. Rooftops on inner-city high rises, for example, simply can't accommodate the amount of solar panels required to meet demand. Meaning, solar apartments will be six stories or smaller and will most likely rise -- and already are -- on the outskirts of big metropolitan areas and clear of tall buildings.

[via: New York Times]

Photo: Flickr user CoCreatr, CC 2.0

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure