Land of the Rising Sun
Japan, weary of being dependent on imported fuel, has taken a shine to solar power. The nation now produces half of the world’s solar energy and has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s leading producer of solar panels. The Japanese government has thrown its weight behind what it sees as a potentially strong export industry, providing subsidies worth $25 million a year to companies working to develop more efficient solar technology. The government has also paid out nearly $1 billion in rebates since 1994 to citizens who install solar panels on their roofs, but those rebates are slated to be cut, a prospect that is spurring a number of Japanese to put up panels before the incentives disappear. Neighborhoods of new solar-powered homes are cropping up and proving popular with homebuyers. “We feel our roof panels are contributing to a great cause,” said homeowner Yoshiko Takahashi.