The "Awa Nishi Solar Hills Power Plant" in Awa City, Tokushima Prefecture, is a mega- (large-scale) solar power plant with an output of about 2MW constructed on a former quarry. This plant started operation in July 2013 and was planned and developed by non-profit organization (NPO) Shikoku Green Agency (Shikoku GA) in Awa City, with major solar panel manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells Japan Co Ltd (Minato-ku, Tokyo) becoming the power producer (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Awa Nishi Solar Hills Power Plant (source: Nikkei BP)

Resident safety engineer at 2MW power plant connected with high-voltage grid

Shikoku GA also operates and maintains the plant after completion. The Hanwha Group has a policy to entrust mega-solar design and construction as well as operation and maintenance (O&M) after completion to local companies with the view to allying with local communities.

Joining hands with municipalities and other organizations, Shikoku GA has developed and promoted renewable energy systems in the Shikoku region. This power plant is one of such projects, and was featured in this "Visit to Plant" section under the title "2MW Solar Plant Monitored by Resident Safety Engineer" in August 2014 (See related article).

Later, Hanwha Energy Corp became engaged in mega-solar business in the Hanwha Group, and Hanwha Energy Corp/Japan (Minato-ku, Tokyo) took over as the power producer of this plant. Shikoku GA transformed from an NPO to a stock corporation.

About 2MW-output mega-solar plants connected with a high-voltage power transmission grid are usually unmanned. Other than almost-monthly visual inspections, their management is normally carried out though power generation monitoring and remote cameras. At the Awa Nishi Solar Hills Power Plant, on the other hand, a dedicated prefabricated building and a portable toilet were constructed, and a resident safety engineer has been visually inspecting the facilities and managing weeds.