A 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.”