A 70 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan has come online. The Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant went online officially on November 1, 2013 and is being operated by a special purpose company established by Kyocera Corporation and six other companies to sell the electricity to a local utility under Japan’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) program. An inauguration ceremony was held recently to celebrate the country’s largest utility-scale solar power plant.
Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in March of 2011, interest in solar energy has risen as a viable way to resolve power supply issues. To help promote the use of renewable energy, the Japanese government launched a restructured FIT program in July 2012 which mandates that local utilities are required to purchase 100 percent of the power generated from solar installations of more than 10 kilowatts (kW) for a period of 20 years.
Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corporation was established by Kyocera and six other companies in July 2012 to explore a new business model for utility-scale solar power generation. Under a financing plan devised by Mizuho Corporate Bank, the new company was tasked to develop and operate the 70MW solar power plant on land owned by IHI Corporation with the power generated to be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co. based on the FIT program. As the largest shareholder of the new company, the Kyocera Group was responsible for the supply of solar modules as well as part of the construction, and will also undertake maintenance of the system with Kyudenko Corporation.
In addition, a tour facility has been built adjacent to the 70MW plant that is open to the public and features a circular viewing room where visitors can observe the 290,000 solar panels from an elevated vantage point and enjoy the view of the ocean bay and grand Sakurajima volcano in the background. Display zones for visitors such as students and tourists provide information about environmental issues and the science behind photovoltaic energy generation.