If you thought Abu Dhabi's uber-green Masdar city was ambitious and/or doomed, just wait until you see what Japan's cooking up. In a pair of nearby cities in Hiroshima prefecture, Fukuyama and Onomichi, a coalition is going to power as much of their grid as possible with solar energy.

The factory of ship-building company Tsuneishi Holdings Corporation is getting tricked out with solar panels, as are the homes of its workers. The batteries of citizens’ electric cars will be used to store the resulting energy when it's not being used.

The overall goal appears to be about proof-of-concept — learning about incorporating large amounts of solar into the grid, as well as being a sort of living PR vehicle for the message that Japan should shift to renewables. Those might sound like some pretty thin goals, but keep in mind, this is Japan, where bureaucracy is how things get done, and change just doesn't happen without massive government support.

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