New app from Japan enables users to invest in utility scale PV starting from $2.2/W


Japanese PV plant operator Change The World has developed a mobile app that enables investing in its own solar facilities located in Japan, starting with a minimum sum of approximately $2.2/W.

“Our app is currently available only for Japan but we are planning to bring it to the U.S. market as a next step and ultimately [to] expand globally” the company's global expansion specialist, Uto Sean Kayama, told pv magazine. “We are currently in talks with local partners.”

The app is called Change, can be used on any mobile phone or on the internet, and gives users the opportunity to invest in a solar plant with just a few clicks in a single transaction.

In the application, users can view the exact power generated, the location and visualization of the PV plant, and the investment returns, all in real-time. Users can also check how much CO2 they have reduced to check their environmental contributions. “The average sum invested by our users is around $2,000 but we also received orders for very small portions of our solar parks.” As of the end of October, more than 15,000 users had decided to invest through the app, its developer states.

Users are allowed to visualize all PV power assets owned by Change The World and choose between them for their investment. Those that buy more than 1 kW of capacity receive multiple benefits as premium members.

The users do not receive physical documentation of the transaction. After purchasing a portion of the solar power plant, it is immediately displayed in the app, where users can check how many watts they own, their performance, and their return. “Currently, we do not have a transaction verification system,” Kayama specified.

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The company built solar plants with a combined capacity of over 16 MW under Japan's feed-in tariff scheme and most of these projects were sold through the app. “Users can now monitor the power production their portions are generating and calculate their revenue,” Kayama emphasized, adding that annual investment return is estimated at around 7%. “The app can also be used for unsubsidized projects.”

“Around 77% of the solar capacity deployed by Change The World consists of agrivoltaic projects,” Kayama further explained, stressing the importance of similar schemes for a land-constrained country such as Japan.

“We officially started a partnership in June 2020 with Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) and, in July 2021, with Japan Airlines (JAL),” Kayama further explained. “We offer a mileage service where you can earn one mile for every 200 yen [$1.76] spent on solar power plants on our app. In addition, we have partnered with their campaigns and publications in airline magazines, in-flight magazines, and community sites.”

“With our application, we want to get rid of the current stigma the world has on solar investing,” Kayama went on to say. “The current image society has on solar investing is that it is too expensive, too complicated, doesn’t have the facility to place solar panels, and doesn’t know the financial returns. Change allows anyone, regardless of age, income, knowledge, and background to easily start solar investing and become an environmental contributor.”

*The article was updated on November 16 to reflect that the app enables an annual investment return of around 7%, and not of up to 4%, as we previously reported.

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