World's Largest Solar/agriculture Project Underway in Japan

2014/06/14 06:58
Shinichi Kato, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Five companies announced June 12, 2014, that they have reached a basic agreement to consider launching a 430MW solar power generation project using agricultural land in Ukujima, Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan.

If realized, the project would be the world's largest solar project using agricultural land in use. The five companies are Photovolt Development Partners GmbH, which is a Germany-based photovoltaic project developer, Kyocera Corp, Kyudenko Corp, Orix Corp and Mizuho Bank Ltd.

When a solar project is implemented on agricultural land in use, props are set up on the land and solar panels are arranged above the land in a way that makes space between panels. As a result, sunlight is shared by the land and solar panels, realizing both agriculture and solar power generation. This is called "solar sharing."

Photovolt Development Partners, which is developing the project, expects a total investment of about ¥150 billion (approx US$1.47 billion). It aims to start construction in fiscal 2015 (from the beginning of April 2015 to the end of March 2016).

The area of the planned construction site is 6,300,000m2, which is quivalent to an area 134 times the size of the Tokyo Dome and 1/4 the size of the Ukujima island. The area and population of Ukujima are 24,930,000m2 and about 2,000, respectively. About 1,720,000 polycrystalline silicon solar panels manufactured by Kyocera will be set up.

Electricity generated will be transmitted to mainland Kyushu via a 60km-long undersea cable and sold to Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc. The expected amount of electricity generated is about 500,000MWh per year, which is equivalent to the amount consumed by about 138,800 households.

TeraSol G K, a special purpose company (SPC), will be a power producer for the project. Kyocera, Kyudenko and Orix will invest in the SPC. Though their investment ratios have not been decided yet, Kyocera will probably become the largest stakeholder.

Ukujima Mega Solar Park Service (UMSPS) Corp (Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture), which is responsible for negotiations on land, will rent agricultural land and deserted arable land from landowners and sublease it to TeraSol.

UMSPS will commission farm works to livestock farmers by using agricultural grant funding from TeraSol to contribute to the development of Ukujima with both agricultural and solar power generation businesses.

Kyocera and Kyudenko will be responsible for construction and operation. Mizuho Bank will coordinate the project finance for TeraSol.