Solar Convenience Stores

Environment News - May 9th, 2012
solar panel

Convenience stores are just that, convenient. Now, though, the Lawson chain of konbini is planning on offering even more than late night snacks, fried chicken and a library for manga addicts.

Nikkei reports that Lawson Inc. will enter the power generation business this year, equipping its stores with solar panels and selling the surplus energy to the national grid. Next time you want to heat up the noodles or curry you have bought – even if you take them home – the shop may be powering the cooking.

There are around 45,000 convenience stores in Japan. Lawson run just under 10,000, a market share just behind Seven Eleven, who have about 13,000 stores. Currently, only 20 of Lawson’s stores are equipped with solar equipment but they plan to expand that number ahead of the July 1 introduction of a “feed in tariff system,” which the government and electricity companies say guarantees purchases of electricity from renewable sources such as solar or wind generators. Surplus can only be taken, though, after in-store lighting and air-conditioning has been taken care of.

Seven-Eleven does lead the pack in other ways, too. The mega-chain has solar panels and LEDs installed on about 1,400 of its stores, with Family Mart – who recently launched a super rice ball – hoping to grow its foray into renewable energy soon.

With domestic convenience looking abroad for expansion into new markets, it is good to see them focusing on the environment back home in Japan. If we could only persuade them to do something about all that packaging!