After turning to the east from Route 140 about a 10-minute drive from Seibu Chichibu Station in Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture, orderly arrayed black solar panels will come into view beyond a residential area on top of a steep slope.

It is the "Chichibu 1.0MW Solar Power Plant," a mega- (large-scale) solar power plant constructed by Italy-based solar power generation development company Hergo Sun Japan KK (Minato-ku, Tokyo). It started operation in February 2016 (See related article).

Chichibu City called for a proposal from power producers in 2012 in the scheme that Chichibu City rents property from the prefecture and individuals and rents the property combined with municipal property to a private mega-solar power producer. Out of two applicants, Hergo Sun Japan was selected (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: The "Chichibu 1.0MW Solar Power Plant" constructed by Hergo Sun Japan (source: Nikkei BP)

Kyocera Communication Systems Co Ltd provided engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services, setting up 4,564 solar panels manufactured by Kyocera Corp. PV inverters of Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems Corp (TMEIC) were also adopted.

Fig. 2: The power generation amount during the first year since the operation began. (source: Nikkei BP based on Hergo Sun Japan's data)

About one and a half years have passed since the operation began. The state of power generation has been sound, making an upswing of about 20% to 1,539,100kWh in the first year (from April 2016 to March 2017) compared with the annual estimate of 1,284,000kWh (Fig. 2).