[Lawsuit] Heatstroke Caused by Mega Solar Plant!? (1)

Dispute focused on 'maximum tolerable limit'

2018/06/12 08:01
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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A man living in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, filed a lawsuit with the Himeji Branch of Kobe District Court in September 2015, requesting JAG Energy Co Ltd of Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, which supported the development of "Himeji Solar Way," a mega (large-scale) solar power plant featuring an output of about 1MW, to remove some of the solar panels from the plant and pay 3.3 million yen (approx US$29,986) in compensation and legal fees, claiming that "his peaceful daily life was threatened by the light and heat reflected by solar panels at the plant."

Suit withdrawn about two years after filing

Newspapers reported the case under titles such as "Room temperature exceeds 50°C because of reflection from solar panels" or "Heatstroke caused by light reflected from solar panels" and the case attracted attention throughout Japan.

The first oral argument of the trial took place Nov 16, 2015, and written answers were submitted by the two parties in mid-January 2016. For about two years starting from May 2016, the two parties repeatedly submitted opinions and objections against the opinions in writing (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: The mega solar power plant that caused the lawsuit (source: Nikkei BP)

Under such circumstances, the two parties decided to discuss the possibility of reconciliation in July 2017, but the plaintiff expressed his intention to "withdraw the case entirely" on November 30 in the same year, and the defendant accepted his offer. Consequently, the case was closed by "withdrawal" without reaching a judgment or reconciliation.

The background to the processes from filing a suit to withdrawal of the case is reviewed based on the trial record in this "troubleshooting" report. Keiichi Morita (law firm Nishimura & Asahi), who is familiar with this field, explains this case, including why it was closed in the form of "withdrawal."

Results of analysis based on a simulation of light reflected into the plaintiff's house and the influence of the light on room temperature are also introduced. The analysis was conducted by Shusaku Furushima, president of FullEyes Co Ltd based in Isehara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, which is engaged in the investigation of light reflected from solar panels.