2MW Solar Plant Resistant to Snow in Yamagata
Amount of power generation equivalent to national average
Yonezawa City, at the southernmost end of Yamagata Prefecture, is situated in a basin that spreads across the foot of the Azuma mountain range. The area is designated as a Heavy Snow Belt as it has heavier snowfall than most other areas of Yamagata Prefecture. The yearly total snow depth sometimes amounts to 10m, with the deepest snow normally reaching about 1m even in urban areas.
The "Hybrid Power Plant Yonezawa," a mega- (large-scale) solar power plant with an output of about 2MW, is surrounded by fields in such a heavy snowfall area (Fig. 1). The lowest part of the solar panels was set at about 2.3m from the ground while the highest part in the back of an array (a unit of panel installation) reaches approximately 5m.
The plant made it easy for the snow accumulated on the panels to slip down by tilting the panels by 45° while making it difficult for snow that fell from the panels onto the ground to reach the panels' lowest part by installing them at a high level.
The plant has already experienced two winters since completion of its construction in November 2014.
"While we had to remove snow embankments once using heavy machinery in the first winter, we only removed the tops of snow embankments with manual labor and without heavy machinery in the second winter, when there was not much snowfall," said Yuichi Otomo, president of AC Corp (Yonezawa City), the plant's developer, which operates and maintains the plant after operation started. Otomo expressed his confidence in "mega-solar plants that are resistant to snow" (Fig. 2).