The system should supply 10 percent of the building's energy, or 350,000 kilowatt-hours. It is expected to save Ricoh $56,000 per year and reduce its CO2 emissions by 98.1 metric tones yearly.
The sad fact is that stories like this are news-the day ought to come when, if you have flat roof, you put solar power generators on it as a matter of course, like putting overlapping shingles on a sloped roof as a matter of course.
The reason that day has not come is because of the gap between the price of grid power and solar power. The national average for a kilowatt hour from the grid is a little over 10 cents, and the cost of solar power is four times that. Hopefully this will change in the foreseeable future-by solar coming down rather than grid prices going up.
In the meantime, government subsidies and tax breaks can close the gap-and Japan and California are famous for granting them. And if that puts a different light on Ricoh's actions in Japan and California, I think it's unfair. What counts is commitment, and Ricoh has shown some. If two separate governments reward them, so much the better.
And, some day, hopefully, it won't be news.