Visit to Plant

Japan's 'Longest' Solar Plant Extends 10km Along Railway

Arrays of different sizes efficiently laid out on long, narrow site

2017/03/22 22:09
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Site for scrapped 'Narita Shinkansen bullet train' project

The Narita Sky Access Line is a railway that extends about 50km between Keisei Narita and Narita Airport stations. Keisei Electric Railway Co Ltd's "Skyliner," running at 160km/h, connects Tokyo and Narita Airport in slightly less than 40 minutes. On the way to the airport from Tokyo, a tremendous number of solar panels orderly arrayed will come into view on the left as you pass Komuro Station and approach Chiba New Town Chuo Station (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Solar panels set up along the track of the Narita Sky Access Line (source: Nikkei BP)

The solar panels stretch along the railway about 10km across three stations from Chiba New Town Chuo to Inzai Makinohara and Imba Nihonidai stations. This is the "SGET Chiba New Town Mega Solar Power Plant," a mega- (large-scale) solar power plant with an output of 12.8MW (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2: Image of the "SGET Chiba New Town Mega Solar Power Plant" where panels are set up for about 10km (source: SGET)

Standing beside the three train stations near the power plant are signboards that read "Project promoted by Sparx Green Energy & Technology" and "Designed and constructed by Toshiba, Kumagaigumi;" the signboards can be seen clearly by passengers on the platforms.

The power plant is, in fact, being constructed on a former bullet train site along the Narita Sky Access Line. Chiba Prefecture secured part of the construction site for the "Narita Shinkansen bullet train" between Tokyo and Narita Airport stations. The project was, however, never realized because of a protest movement and other factors, and the site was left idle.