• Aug 1, 2011
In the last few months, Japan's Fukushima Prefecture has suffered through an enormous earthquake, devastating tsunami, and the frightening meltdown of multiple nuclear reactors. Not exactly the best set of circumstances. Though local and national officials have been working to restore services and and infrastructure, it's understandable that prefecture communities are still suffering from the damage caused this triptych of disaster.

Japan has some tough decisions to make about the long term power supply, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk is acting quickly to help change things in Fukushima's Soma City. The Musk Foundation has donated $250,000 toward building a solar power system. The solar panels will be manufactured in Japan and installed by local workers, helping to bring back both power and construction jobs. Solar power specialists SolarCity (where Musk is also the chairman) will donate their services to aid in project management. The full press release can be found after the jump.

[Source: SolarCity]
Show full PR text
Elon Musk Donates Solar Power Project to Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

SolarCity will manage project at no cost to provide clean, renewable electricity to water treatment plant in area still recovering from effects of tsunami

FUKUSHIMA, Japan, July 29, 2011- Elon Musk, through his Musk Foundation, has donated $250,000 to build a solar power system in Soma City, in the Fukushima prefecture of Japan. Mr. Musk is visiting an area of Soma City today that was devastated by a tsunami earlier this year, for a ceremony at the site where the project will be built. SolarCity is donating time and resources to manage the project, which will provide renewable electricity to a city facility located on reclaimed industrial land not suitable for agriculture.

The solar arrays will consist of high-efficiency solar panels manufactured in Japan, and will be installed by local workers in Fukushima. The project will create local construction jobs and can act as a model for the reuse of disaster-stricken areas in other parts of Japan for clean energy generation.

Much of the eastern portion of Soma was flooded by a devastating tsunami following a massive earthquake on March 11, 2011. The city is about 43 kilometers north of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the site of the nuclear accident caused by the tsunami. Soma City's agriculture, dairy and fishing industries were devastated by the tsunami, and tourism has been hurt by concerns about any lasting effects of the nuclear disaster. Despite Soma City's proximity to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, the winds and topography have protected the city and prevented the need for citizens to evacuate. Mr. Musk hopes that by visiting the region, he can demonstrate that it's safe for others, both within and outside of Japan, to do so.

Hidekiyo Tachiya, the mayor of Soma City, has worked to open roads quickly and provide housing for displaced people following the disasters.

"We are grateful to Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation for this generous gift, and for coming such a long way to personally visit Soma City," said Mayor Tachiya. "Recovery requires us to build new industries, and our next generation wants them to be supported by new kinds of energy. With this project as a beginning, Soma City hopes to become a model for Japan's energy future."

The Soma City project will be the Musk Foundation's second donated solar project the last 12 months. The Musk Foundation donated the funds and SolarCity donated labor to build a solar power system for a hurricane response center in southern Alabama in December 2010, to provide renewable power with battery backup to an area that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina and the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

About the Musk Foundation

The Musk Foundation was established in 2001 to promote research and educational endeavors in renewable energy, science and engineering, pediatrics and human space exploration.

About SolarCity

SolarCity®-a national leader in solar power design, financing, installation, monitoring and energy efficiency services-was founded with the mission to help millions of homeowners and businesses adopt clean power, protect themselves from rising gas and electricity costs and protect their environment from polluting power sources. Additional information about the company is available on the Web at www.solarcity.com.


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  • 15 Comments
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      Musk heads up SolarCity. Good to know, I'll be taking that company off my list.
        Stacey
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        What company do you work for so I can take it off my list?
          q3a7vodk4
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Stacey
          What the hell man why am I always the last to know. We are keeping lists now? I need more information so I can start my own.
      HVH20
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds like more of the Tesla/Toyota (Japan) partnership. Good news still.
        paulwesterberg
        • 9 Hours Ago
        @HVH20
        250k(two roadsters) is nothing to a guy like Elon, but it helps him win favor with Toyoda.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Good man.. Make sure those panels can stand up to a 6.0 earthquake because they just had one of those... :(
        Chris M
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        I suspect the panels will hold up better than the reactors did....
          Marco Polo
          • 9 Hours Ago
          @Chris M
          Actually, the newer, better designed reactors stood up to the earthquake very well. Even the problem reactors stood up to the earthquake, it was the tsunami and the poor location of the diesel generators, that was the problem.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      that's nice but if he's feeling charitable he could release Martin Eberhard from his hush money contract so he can talk about what really happened. but I guess that's not interesting : )
      MBCoast
      • 3 Years Ago
      @David Radiation deaths will likely take time to manifest themselves - like smoking, it rarely kills right away, but instead shows up months or years down the road as cancer. So, knowing the nuke industry, no one will have died from the radiation at all - they will have died by cancer. Yay for SAFE and too-cheap-to-meter nuclear power. Go Elon!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @MBCoast
        Have you actually looked at the exposure levels? Natural levels of radiation in Japan are very low - most places have much higher levels without medically determined ill effects. I have repeatedly heroically offered to spend several months if necessary in Cornwall, provided this is paid for by the anti-nuclear brigade, during which time I would soak up several times the levels in most parts of the exclusion zone. As for the repeated polemics about too cheap to meter nuclear, taken from one comment by one advocate decades ago, for the last 30 years I have heard about solar power at grid parity, and it is still in the future, in spite of 'greens' skill in cooking the books, which they do to make up for their basic scientific ignorance and innumeracy. It is not people and 'vested interests' that are against renewables, it is the laws of physics and mathematics. As one of the millions of people in the UK who are being compelled to subsidise lunatics to put solar pv on their roofs I am sick and tired of the whole bunch of half wits and fantacists. Grow up.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          David, I have some sympathy with your position. Although I am in favour of Geo-thermal rather than Nuclear if possible, I agree that Solar is impractical for anything but small household energy production. However, if people want to feel good and show their commitment to a better world in a personal way, why shouldn't a portion of this expence become tax deductible? Such energy conscious citizens are saving, however minuscule, on the cost of power generation infrastructure and thus lessening public expenditure. Why shouldn't such action receive tax recognition? This is not to say that the provision of base power is solved by solar, and that the only really viable replacement for coal isn't nuclear,(or possibly geo-thermal) but more a recognition of good citizenship.
          paulwesterberg
          • 3 Years Ago
          @David: Fukushima is still not under control. Just today there is this news: Fatal radiation level found at Fukushima. http://enenews.com/nyt-fatal-radiation-level-found-fukushima-exceeded-10-sieverts-hour-measuring-device-maxed Milk in the US tainted by Fukushima radiation: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1371930/Japan-nuclear-crisis-Fukushima-radiation-detected-MILK-2-US-states.html
      • 3 Years Ago
      Radiation death toll at Japan's nuclear plants from the earthquake and tsunami - 0. Death toll from heat prostration due to not switching back on working reactors - 26. Numbers valid at at mid July, by which time they had also had 12,500 hospital admissions due to the heat.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      that's nice but if he's feeling charitable he could release Martin Eberhard from his hush money contract so he can talk about what really happened. but I guess that's not interesting : )
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