Kaihata District in Sosa City, Chiba Prefecture, is becoming one of Japan's major concentrations of solar sharing projects (agricultural solar power generation plants). The gently sloping district is covered with a vast range of fields. However, about a quarter of the fields are abandoned, partially due to the lack of successors. Some of the fields are covered with weeds or illegally dumped waste, which are serious problems.

Soybeans grown under panels

People began to take action to revitalize the wasted land by solar sharing. When I drove through Kaihata District, solar power plants with long and narrow strips of solar panels installed on mounting systems slightly higher than normal, which looked like wisteria trellises, were seen in some places, and crops including soybeans were being grown under the panels.

"Sosa Mega Solar Sharing No. 1 Power Plant," an agricultural mega solar plant, which was completed in April of this year, is one of the largest among the plants in this solar sharing mecca. The power generation facility was constructed on a 3.2ha site consisting of abandoned fields and features 1.2MW of solar panel capacity and 1MW of output to the grid (Fig. 1 & 2).

Fig. 1: The recently completed "Sosa Mega Solar Sharing No. 1 Power Plant" (source: SBI Energy)

Fig. 2: Solar panels of 1.2MW capacity were installed on 3.2ha of abandoned fields. (source: SBI Energy)