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Sanyo’s Solar Ark: Company Shift or PR Stunt?

sanyo_solar_ark.jpgA new sight can be seen along the Shinkansen Bullet Train route between Tokyo and Osaka – Sanyo’s Solar Ark. But David McNeill of irishtimes.com questions if the monument is truly a part of the company’s sustainability concept, dubbed Gaia, or merely a publicity stunt.

Sanyo’s Solar Ark is a 15 meter-wide futuristic looking solar building that is located near the city of Nagoya. Its surface is made of 5,000 solar panels that generate 530,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year. The company’s Web site says the solar system helps to power the entire facility and reduces energy bills, but did not specify an amount.

The ark was cited by Norman Weinstien as a structure that integrates the conflicting values of utility, beauty, cost, durability, and sustainability.

Yurika Ayukawa, a leading environmental consultant who gave the Sanyo board a presentation in 2005, told McNeill that the Gaia concept was not popular at all among Sanyo’s directors.

Sanyo has set aside €477 million for solar technology alone. What’s more, the company expects production of solar panels at Sanyo’s European base in Hungary to triple in the next few years.

But technology writer Tim Hornyak told McNeill that, “Big companies that have these campaigns are the very ones that are trying to block governments from curbing environmental emissions, so it behooves us to look beyond these slogans, and see what are they actually doing.”

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2 thoughts on “Sanyo’s Solar Ark: Company Shift or PR Stunt?

  1. For a company like Sanyo, I am sure that environmental emissions are still a necessary evil to produce the solar panels in and of themselves. However, I also think that if the number of solar power users increases, it would offset the emissions caused to create them.

    I disagree that many of the companies touting the green banner are secretly trying to curb emissions policies–especially as that is how some of them will actually be able to make more money.

    One more example, Sanyo makes HEV batteries, and with the changes for the requirements for automobiles to be able to get better mpg, they would have an excellent opportunity to make better sales. Why would they intentionally get in their own way in this situation?

    While I understand that there are companies out there that say one thing and do another, with the amount of money Sanyo is putting into their energy businesses, I just don’t think it is simply a PR stunt. Besides, the solar ark has been in Japan since 2002–way before the Think GAIA brand vision.

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