“After 2011 everyone started to realize that it was necessary to be dependent on oneself to a certain extent since the country has previously depended on big utilities,” said Takanobu Aikawa, an energy researcher at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting.
Toyota is not alone, with rival automakers also jumping into the power-producing field.
Honda’s plant in Yorii, northeast of Tokyo, is covered with solar panels and also has an on-site gas plant with a 2,600 kilowatt capacity.
Mitsubishi installed a mini gas plant at a Kyoto facility — following a request from the local power company.
A loosening of rules on purchasing electricity, which started in the late 1990s, has paved the way for Nissan to flexibly buy power for four sites — including its Tokyo-area headquarters — from new producers as well as the long-standing utilities.
“The changes that have started will not stop so I expect the energy situation in Japan to change dramatically over the next 10 years,” Aikawa said.