Egutec Co Ltd (Tenri City, Nara Prefecture) announced Nov 30, 2017, that it has started a solar-sharing business, which realizes solar power generation and agriculture at the same time.
Egutec has installed 49.9kW of solar tracking systems per about 1,000m2 of rice paddy. This time, the company employed the "Ena Tracking System" two-axis solar tracking power generation system of Enatex (Kurayoshi City, Tottori Prefecture). Compared with conventional fixed systems, it can generate about 30-50% more power by using a high-accuracy optical sensor to track the sun so that it always faces the sun.
By setting up the system at three rice paddies in Tenri City, Nara Prefecture, Egutec succeeded in growing rice plants even under solar panels without affecting surrounding rice paddies. It is possible to use a tractor without any problem. Also, the Ena Tracking System has an automatic safety mode, which makes solar panels horizontal and prevents them from being affected by wind load at the time of typhoon.
In the case of this project, when the FIT-based purchasing price is ¥27/kWh, it is possible to recoup the initial investment in about 10 years. According to Egutec, the price of rice is relatively low, any many farmers fall into the red. By employing the solar-sharing method, it becomes possible to gain an income by selling electricity and stabilize income. Egutec expects that the business will be widely adopted because it can energize local communities.