Visit to Plant

Cost of Mega Solar Plant Cut With General Contractor's Expertise

Sendai City's 1st Mega-Solar Power Plant Named "Whale"

2014/04/21 18:01
Kiyotaka Nakanishi, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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In February 2013, a mega (large-scale) solar power plant started operation in Imozawa district, Aoba-ku, Sendai City, which is about a 20-minute drive to the west of Sendai Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train. This is the first mega-class solar power plant that started generating power in Sendai City. The eccentric name on the signboard – "Whale's Mega-Solar Power Plant" – was derived from the trademark of Hashimototen Co Ltd (Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture), a local general contractor that operates the power generation business.

Hashimototen was founded in 1878 (Meiji 11) and is known as an established general contractor based in Sendai. Its founder Chujiro Hashimoto went independent when Okuragumi (the present Taisei Corp), for which he had been working, won the Miyagi Prison (Sendai Correctional Precinct) in a tender, and launched Hashimotogumi, the predecessor of Hashimototen, in Sendai. Chujiro seemed to have a passion for business. He also established a carriage company in the same year and provided a stagecoach service between Sendai and Fukushima.

Culture not to fully depend on local public construction

However, the carriage company turned out to be harmful. Although the business had started smoothly, Chujiro had to bear a heavy debt, and was forced to discontinue the business because of the Tohoku Honsen Line that started service between Ueno and Aomori in 1893 (Meiji 26). Chujiro reportedly walked across Japan to apologize, visiting creditors in Sendai, Tokyo and even Kumamoto where he was born.

Chujiro fell into severe circumstances, and this was during exactly the same time when the laying and expansion of railroads blossomed across Japan. Hashimotogumi embarked on railroad construction, starting from the job it had won on part of the Ou Line. Constructing the Joban Line, the Hakodate Honsen Line and many more across Eastern Japan, the company gradually solidified its foundation. Chujiro was an entrepreneur who was tripped up by the railroad that had emerged as a modern convenience at that time, and was also revived by the construction of railroad that was spreading.

Perhaps because these stories of its founder have been handed down, the company has a "spirit of not letting itself depend only on local public construction," even though it is a general contractor, according to President Hiroaki Sasaki. The mega-solar power plant that Hashimototen built ahead of anyone else in the city might be referred to as one of the products of this spirit.

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