Visit to Plant

Consumer Co-op Realizes Mega Solar Systems on Logistics Facilities

High yield using Japanese panels, PV inverters

2014/03/31 15:23
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Osaka Izumi Co-operative Society based in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, boasts the largest-class size among consumer co-ops across Japan, with 453,257 member households (as of the end of March 2013) and supply value of ¥69 billion (approx US$671 million) in fiscal 2012. Its activity area is south Osaka, extending from Higashi-Osaka City to Misakicho.

There are two large logistics centers: "Techno Stage Logistics Center" and "Ayumino Logistics Center," located in Izumi City, which is situated in the heart of the area. The former is a facility featuring refrigerator functions, which was completed in 2003, while the latter is a room temperature facility completed in 2012.

Osaka Izumi Co-op constructed 2.3MW of mega (large-scale) solar power plants on the roof of these two logistics centers. The output is 1.3MW at Techno Stage Logistics Center and 1.0MW at Ayumino Logistics Center. Construction started in July 2012, when the feed-in tariff (FIT) program was launched, and finished with operation starting in November that year (Fig. 1 & 2). Tess Engineering Co Ltd (Yodogawa-ku, Osaka City) designed and constructed the plant, while Kyocera Corp's solar panels and Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems Corp's (TMEIC) PV inverters were adopted.

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Japanese Consumers' Cooperative Union (JCCU) announced its "proposals for Japan's energy policy" in January 2012. In the proposals, JCCU cited the "diffusion of solar power generation" as one of its prospective efforts in local areas. Amid such a trend, nationwide consumer co-ops have embarked on setting up solar power systems. Osaka Izumi Co-op, in particular, has been leading this approach.

Can consumer co-op run power generation business?

Yoshio Hamada of Osaka Izumi Co-op confessed, "Given the large number of members who focus on the diffusion of reusable energies, we had received quite a few requests. Although we once set up solar panels with a few kilowatt-output at headquarters, they were really just some sort of symbol. So, we continued discussions based on business sustainability, simulating investment recovery in view of solar panel installation on the roof when we constructed the Techno Stage Logistics Center in 2003. We gave up on the plan because then there was neither the FIT program nor sufficient returns."

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