Bryan Ashley

Norcross-based solar cell manufacturer Suniva Inc. is to begin selling in Japan as the country aims to boost the proportion of electriciy produced by renewable sources in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown. 

“We are working with a distribution partner now to realize our first orders soon,” Bryan Ashley, Suniva’s chief marketing officer, told Global Atlanta in an email after traveling on a U.S.-led mission to Tokyo this month. 

Mr. Ashley said the country’s seven major utilities are being “dragged along” toward ambitious renewable energy targets set by the Democratic Party of Japan, which was ousted in Dec. 16 parliamentary elections after a three-year stint in power. 

According to Mr. Ashley’s impression, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party‘s victory shouldn’t completely derail the country’s renewable-energy plans. 

“The recent election means some slight modifications, probably, but the direction is clear,” Mr. Ashley said. Shinzo Abe is set to become Japan’s seventh prime minister in less than seven years on Dec. 26. 

In July, Japan instituted a feed-in tariff system that requires utilities to buy renewable energy produced by individuals and organizations at a fixed rate. This scheme has been popular in Germany, the worldwide leader in solar energy. 

Some expect energy policy to shift with the LDP’s return to power. The party is seen as more business-friendly than the outgoing DPJ and has advocated a three-year assessment to determine which nuclear reactors to restart. Nearly all of Japan’s 50 reactors have been shut down since the Fukushima Daiichi plant was damaged by the devastating tsunami last March. 

The DPJ had wanted the country to become nuclear-free by 2040. 

Mr. Ashley participated in the U.S.-Japan Renewable Energy Roundtable, which was organized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Commerce Department.

He joined other executives on a tour to view reconstruction efforts in Fukushima prefecture and the Sendai area, where the tsunami slammed into the coast. 

“The people are so admirable – what they have done to rebuild in so short a time is a real testament to their work ethic and culture,” he told Global Atlanta. 

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...