Japan's Showa Shell to install solar cells at gas stations

TOKYO, June 9 Thu Jun 9, 2011 10:13am BST

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TOKYO, June 9 (Reuters) - Japanese refiner Showa Shell Sekiyu said on Thursday it will install solar cells able to generate a total of 1 megawatt of electricity at its gas stations by the end of September to alleviate the burden on the power grid, especially in the eastern part of the country.

The company said solar cells made by wholly owned subsidiary Solar Frontier at a cost of 500 million yen ($6 million) will be installed at more than 200 service stations in areas served by Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) and Tohoku Electric Power .

The two utilities lost several power stations including Tepco's Fukushima Daiichi plant, where engineers are still struggling to halt radiation leaks, in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeast Japan.

The government is urging both businesses and households to cut electricity use in regions served by the two utilities during peak demand periods from July to September to avoid blackouts.

About 5 kilowatt worth of solar cell will be installed at each gas station starting this month, cutting daytime power usage by 13 percent, Showa Shell said.

Solar Frontier started commercial production at its third solar cell plant in February with capacity of 900 MW a year in southwestern Japan, investing about 100 billion yen ($1.25 billion).

Showa Shell, which is owned one-third by Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and nearly 15 percent by Saudi Aramco, wants its solar business to earn half of its target for annual core recurring profit of 100 billion yen and hopes to gain a 10 percent market share by 2014. ($1 = 79.945 Japanese Yen) (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Michael Watson)

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