Visit to Plant

Solar Revenue From Prefecture-financed Plant Expected to Benefit Locals

Aiming to return 900 million yen in revenue to local community

2013/10/29 11:47
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Shobara Solar Power Plant in Shobara City, Hiroshima Prefecture, is Japan’s first large-scale solar power plant to use a limited liability partnership (LLP). The project is financed by Hiroshima Prefectural Government and the Chugoku Electric Power Group. With ¥900 million (approx US$9.22 million) expected in revenue over the next 20 years, the plant will remain unconsolidated, and its revenue will be used for energy-saving and other activities. In consideration of the climate in the region, the plant selected solar panel and PV inverter models focusing on their quality and durability.

Shobara City in the northwest of Hiroshima Prefecture has several towns scattered along the rivers surrounded by the Chugoku Mountains. Drive for about 10 minutes by car from the municipal office, leave the main road up the hill leading to an industrial site, and you will see the solar panels neatly arrayed. The completion ceremony of the 1,960kW (1.96MW) Shobara Solar Power Plant took place Oct 10, 2013. Hiroshima Prefecture originally developed the site for industrial use, but it has been vacant. The entire view of the blue solar power plant can be seen from the top of the trail behind the site, with the green woody ridge line in the background.

Japan’s 1st LLP-based solar power plant

"We are expecting the local community to make the most of this plant as a new base for environmental studies where children can consider the future environment and energy," said Hidehiko Yuzaki, governor of Hiroshima Prefecture, offering his felicitations at the opening ceremony. Besides the governor, the mayor of Shobara City and city council members were invited. In fact, Governor Yuzaki participated in the completion ceremony as a member of the "host," not a guest.

This is because Hiroshima Prefectural Government invested in Shobara Solar Power Plant and became a power producer itself. The plant is primarily run by the "Hiroshima Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) for Promotion of Renewable Energy," an LLC financed by Hiroshima Prefecture, etc. This is Japan’s first large-scale solar power plant that is operated by an LLP financed by a local government.

The LLP is planning to develop solar power plants with a total of 6.6MW at three locations in Hiroshima Prefecture, including the site in Shobara City. Considering these as first-term constructions, the prefectural government aims for a larger 10MW solar power project as the second-term construction in the future.

"If we advanced the solar power plant project for leasing prefectural property to private companies, the proceeds from electricity sales would belong to the private companies and prefectural citizens would be faced with rising electric bills," said Seiji Okada, chief of Renewable Energy Promotion, Environmental Policy Division, Prefectural Environment Department, Hiroshima Prefectural Government. "We decided on an LLP, seeking a way for Hiroshima Prefecture to run the business and return the proceeds to the people of Hiroshima Prefecture."

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