Surf and Sun and...Power?

by Kensatsukan Gaijin

Japan, as much as any nation on Earth, recognizes the need to innovate in order to supply its nation with power.  A tiny, isolated nation, fossil fuels are expensive for Japan and Japan’s people are wary of nuclear power.  But while nations like Germany have made great strides in solar power, in a nation like Japan where space is limited and land is at a premium, how can it find room for the large solar farms necessary to power its cities?


Kyocera thinks it has the answer.  The Japanese firm has teamed up  Ciel et Terre (a French company that designs, finances, and operates photovoltaic installations), and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation in Chiba prefecture to build a floating solar farm designed to supply around 4,700 households.  The 13.4 MW floating solar power plant will operate on the Yamakura Dam reservoir.  Kyocera said the facility will be one of the world’s largest floating solar power plants.  It plans to start operation of 30 floating solar power plants nationwide during fiscal 2015, which ends in March 2016.


Around 50,000 Kyocera modules will be installed over a water surface area of 180,000m2, generating an estimated 15,635 megawatt hours per year, enough electricity to supply 4,700 typical households and offsetting around 7,800 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.  In turn, the power will be sold to Tokyo Electric Power Co. for around ¥450 million/year ($78.7 million/year).  Although Japan is prone to natural disasters, the completely recyclable photovoltaic cells can withstand over 100 mph typhoons and are basically impervious to earthquakes, since they are based on water rather than land.  


Japan has millions of dollars in clean energy projects approved, and 96 percent of those are solar. The country already had a long history in the solar industry before the Fukushima disaster and the implementation of its clean energy incentive program. Japan is home to some of the largest solar panel makers in the world, including Panasonic, Sharp and Solar Frontier (part of Showa Shell). 



The Japan Times