Visit to Plant

Former Airport Converted Into Mega Solar Plants

Plant split into 2 to facilitate grid connection

2014/04/13 20:56
Shinichi Kato, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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A mega (large-scale) solar power plant with about 7MW total output is being built on the site of the former Makurazaki Airport in Makurazaki City, Kagoshima Prefecture (Fig. 1). K Clean Energy K K (Makurazaki City, Kagoshima Prefecture), a special purpose company (SPC) jointly formed by Orix Corp and Kyudenko Corp, will operate the power plant business.

Makurazaki Airport opened in 1991 as Japan's first regional airport (commuter airport) and was used for chartered flights to remote islands, refueling and flyovers. But there has not been an airline service since 2003.

Apart from approximately ¥835 million (approx US$8.21 million) of the accumulated loss on airport management and operation, it would have required about ¥80 million every year to maintain the runways and related facilities if the airport had continued to operate. Considering the burden that such costs would force upon the city, Makurazaki City decided to shut down the airport and rent the vacant lot to the mega-solar power plant operator in March 2013.

Construction of astronomy institute, utilization of third sector

A selective competitive tendering by six enterprises was conducted with the aim of selecting the mega-solar power plant operator that would rent the vacant lot.

As a result of the tender, a joint project by Orix and Kyudenko was selected. There were two major reasons behind the result. One was that the project team had the business scope and financial stability to execute the large construction project and continue the business for the next 20 years.

The other was the superiority of the team’s proposal including the rental fee and measures to contribute to the local society, according to the city. The rent is set at about ¥85 million per year including fixed asset taxes, and the site will be rented for about 22 years including the construction period. The city can offset about ¥835 million of the accumulated loss on airport management with this rental income.

The regional contribution measures included the airport terminal building, part of which would be renovated and used as a facility for environmental education (Fig. 2), an astronomy institute, which would be constructed as a place for the local residents to gather, and the management of the mega-solar power plant, part of which would be entrusted to Nansatsu Airport K K, a third-sector airport management company that continued after Makurazaki Airport was shut down.

The construction of an astronomy institute is unusual as a regional contribution measure offered by a mega-solar power plant. Orix and Kyudenko suggested the measure because the location was optimal for astronomical observation, given that there are few buildings and lights that would interfere with astronomical observation around airports.

1st co-financing organized by Kyushu-based local bank

K Clean Energy was financed 70% by Orix and 30% by Kyudenko. Kyudenko will provide the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction), operation and maintenance services to the mega-solar power plant on the former Makurazaki Airport site.

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