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Solar Power Plant in Hakkoda Operates Despite Heavy Snow

Utilization rate reaches 12.7% even in heavy snowfall zone

2016/10/24 10:22
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Solar power plant in the heaviest snow region

The Horyo District spreads across the foot of Mount Hakkoda in the northwest of Towada City, Aomori Prefecture, Japan. The cold northwest wind blowing down from the mountain is called Hakkoda Oroshi, and nearly 2m of snow accumulates in winter. This is a Heavy Snowfall Zone, where the amount of snowfall is higher than most other areas in Aomori. The "Sosei no Mori Solar Power Plant" is situated in such a severe environment (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: "Sosei no Mori Solar Power Plant" at the foot of Mount Hakkoda (source: Tokyo Gumi)

Surrounded by thick beech forests, the solar panels, with an output of 450kW, were installed on tall mounting systems. The lowest part of the panels was set at 2.7m from the ground and tilted by 45° on the mounting systems.

"This is probably the heaviest snowfall area in Japan where a solar power plant has been constructed," said Osamu Kato, executive managing director of Tokyo Gumi Co Ltd (Setagaya-ku, Tokyo), which constructed the Sosei no Mori Solar Power Plant.

"That said, the amount of power generation is no less than the national average," he said. "First of all, the amount of sunshine in Towada City is almost equivalent to that in Tokyo. The plant can generate a sufficient amount of electricity even in winter as the snow easily slides off the panels that were tilted so much."

Tokyo Gumi is a housing manufacturer characterized by its community-based housing with high-quality design. Rihachiro Nakanowatari, chairman of Tokyo Gumi, left a leading housing manufacturer and founded the company in 1993. Tokyo Gumi has constructed more than 4,600 houses, primarily in Tokyo.