Tokyo to require some new homes be equipped with solar panels

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike attends a session of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on Thursday.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on Thursday passed an ordinance requiring that a portion of newly built houses and buildings in Tokyo be equipped with solar panels starting in April 2025.

The requirement, which passed by a majority vote during a plenary session, is the first of its kind in Japan, according to the metropolitan government.

The obligation to install panels is imposed on home construction companies and marketers in regard to newly constructed houses and apartment buildings with a total floor space of less than 2,000 square meters.

However, it will be limited to those building contractors and home sellers that construct or sell at least 20,000 square meters of total floor space per year in Tokyo. The metropolitan government expects about 50 companies to be subject to the requirement.

Exempted were buildings with a roof area of less than 20 square meters, which makes it difficult to secure space for installing the panels.

While there are no penalties for failing to adhere to the requirement, Tokyo will issue administrative guidance or recommendations to non-compliant companies and publicize their names.

For large structures of 2,000 square meters or more, the building owner bears the obligation of installing the solar panels.

The ordinance has also mandated the installation of charging facilities for electric vehicles and other zero emission vehicles in residences with a provided parking space.

Furthermore, to lessen the estimated cost burden of about ¥1 million per house, a supplementary budget was passed to provide a total of ¥30.1 billion in subsidies to companies that construct and sell houses in compliance with the new system, as well as to companies that lease solar panels.

Stepping up installation

Housing builders and other manufacturers have been focusing in recent years on installing solar panels on newly built buildings on their own amid growing environmental awareness.

With energy prices soaring, this trend is likely to accelerate further as solar panel installation becomes mandated.

In April, Tokyo-based Open House Group Co. began allowing buyers of custom-built homes to have solar power generation systems included while bearing only the cost of installation. The cost of the panels and other components are covered by Tokyo Gas.

In exchange for using the power generated by the panels, home buyers pay a ¥3,300 monthly fee to Tokyo Gas for the first 10 years.

According to Open House, the majority of people who have not installed panels up to now have refrained from doing so because many houses in central Tokyo have small roof areas, making it inefficient for generating electricity. But about 10% of new home buyers are now choosing to take the company up on its offer.

Nomura Real Estate Development Co. plans to launch sales of houses built for sale in Suginami Ward, Inagi and other areas of Tokyo with solar panels capable of generating 2 to 6 kilowatts of electricity as standard equipment.

Sumitomo Forestry Co., based in Chiyoda Ward, began sales in April of houses equipped with large panels that produce about 10 kilowatts, which it did by increasing the roof area on the sunnier south side of dwellings.

“We hope that the revision of the ordinance will further increase interest in eco-friendly housing,” a company official said. “We want to ease the burden on customers with a push from the subsidy program set up by Tokyo.”