In a post-tsunami revolt against conventional electric utilities, tens of thousands of Japanese homeowners have started generating their own power from hydrogen fuel cells and solar panels, turning the country into the world’s leading laboratory for overturning the traditional grid and the century-old business model behind it.
Two and a half years after a nuclear-plant disaster crippled a primary source of electricity, major home builders are incorporating the alternative technologies as a standard feature of new homes. Japan’s biggest builder of single-family homes, Sekisui House Ltd. 1928.TO -2.13% , says more than 80% of those it produces have solar power and half have fuel cells, an emerging technology little-known in homes elsewhere.
“If you’re going to use electricity, you might as well make it yourself,” said Sekisui executive Kenichi Ishida, describing the nation’s mood.
Businesses are doing the same thing.