Japan’s Solar Farms Growing – Companies Compete for Land

Japan Property
 

22 Jul, 2014 –

 

Japanese trading house Itochu set up a joint venture with compatriots Kyudenko and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding for construction of a megasolar power plant in Oita Prefecture while Japanese bar chain operator Watami will in December 2015 construct a megasolar power plant in the town of Mukawa in Hokkaido.

With retail electricity sales to be fully deregulated in 2016 companies seeks to build an operation that covers the entire supply chain, from generation to distribution.

Watami will invest approximately 6 billion yen ($58.6 million) in the project, which it will finance primarily through bank loans. This is the company’s second megasolar farm, after one in the nearby town of Atsuma.

Watami will establish a joint venture with a Hokkaido-based company specializing in the design and maintenance of solar power plants. The new venture will acquire 100 hectares of forestland in Mukawa, with 35 hectares allocated for the plant itself.

The rest of the land will be maintained as a forest to strengthen ties with local communities in an effort to increase vegetable and seafood supplies for Watami’s food business.

In the south, Itochu’s project is worth approximately 15 billion yen ($146 million). Several financial institutions will provide project financing to cover some of the cost.

Construction could begin as early as the summer on a 460,000-sq.-kilometer plot owned by Mitsui Engineering. The facility is slated to come online in 2016 with a 45,000kW output capacity. Annually, the plant will generate 52.5 million kilowatt-hours, all of which will be sold to Kyushu Electric Power.

Itochu, which has a 50% stake, will be responsible for developing the plant. Kyudenko and Mitsui Engineering, with 30% and 20% interests respectively, will be charged with operation and maintenance.

Itochu is involved in renewable energy projects around the world, such as solar power in Spain and Greece, wind in the U.S. and geothermal in Indonesia, but this is its first key role at a domestic plant. It hopes its experience abroad will help it further develop the Japanese market.

Upon completion of the Oita plant, it will preside over 470,000kW of renewable energy generating capacity worldwide.

Between July 2012 and the end of March, 8,780 megasolar facilities were approved for the feed-in tariff scheme that guarantees a fixed price for energy from renewable sources. Some 30% of these sites are located in the Kyushu region, which has large open areas and receives lots of sunlight. Competition over land for more plants is already intensifying in the region.

 

 
(Source – “Asia Nikkei” Pic – “Green Prophet“)

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