|The 70MW Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant.|
Kyocera has flipped the switch on a 70 megawatt solar power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan. The Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant, which went online on November 1st, is being operated by a special purpose company established by Kyocera and six other companies to sell the electricity to a local utility under Japan’s feed-in-tariff program.
An inauguration ceremony was held on November 4th, with the attendance of company representatives and local governments to commemorate the launch of the country’s largest utility-scale solar power plant. The array, which covers an area of 1,270,000 square meters or roughly the same area as 27 baseball stadiums, will provide enough power for approximately 22,000 average households and will help to offset roughly 25,000 tons of CO2 per year. The project was built at a total investment of approximately 27 billion yen, about $275.5 million U.S.
Expectations and interest in solar energy have heightened to a new level in Japan with the need to resolve power supply issues resulting from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. To further promote the use of renewable energy, the Japanese government launched a restructured FIT program in July 2012, which stipulates that local utilities are required to purchase 100% of the power generated from solar installations of more than 10 kilowatts for a period of 20 years.
Exploring a new business model for utility-scale solar power generation, Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corporation was established by Kyocera and six other companies in July 2012. Under a financing plan devised by Mizuho Corporate Bank, the new company was tasked to develop and operate the 70MW solar power plant on land owned by IHI Corporation — with the power generated to be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. based on the FIT program. As the largest shareholder of the new company, the Kyocera Group was responsible for the supply of solar modules as well as part of the construction, and will also undertake maintenance of the system with Kyudenko Corporation.
Additionally, a tour facility has been built adjacent to the 70MW plant — which is open to the public — featuring a circular viewing room where visitors can observe the 290,000 solar panels from an elevated vantage point and enjoy the view of the ocean bay and grand Sakurajima volcano in the background. Display zones for visitors such as students and tourists provide information about environmental issues and the science behind photovoltaic energy generation. By dedicating this facility, all parties involved hope to foster a deeper understanding of renewable energy and further facilitate a low-carbon society.
Read Large-Scale Solar Power Systems: Construction and Economics from Amazon.