Kyocera to supply Japan’s first community solar project

Kyocera is to supply solar panels and services to Japan’s first community solar power project in the Wakayama Prefecture and Kyoto city, after signing a supply agreement with the project developers, Kyocera said late last week.

Non-profit company PS and Trans Value will construct and operate the plant, using 7,500 of Kyocera’s multicrystalline silicon solar modules, and capital donated by Ryukoku University.

The 1.85MW Ryukoku solar park, currently being developed by Trans Value, Inami Town and Ryukoku University, will generate electricity for sale to the local grid, under Japan’s generous feed in tariff (FiT) scheme. The profits – any revenue left after operating costs - will be donated to social projects in the Wakayama Prefecture and Kyoto areas.
The partners also hope to establish a model that will encourage a wider take up of renewables.

The new project will be located at various locations throughout the region, with 50kW at the Ryukoku University Fukakusa campus in Kyoto City, and the rest in two locations in Inami Town, Wakayama Prefecture. Around 1.2MW will be on leased municipal property Inami Town, and an addition 600kW on land owned by PS in the town.

A formal agreement between the developers is set to be concluded next month, with construction set to begin in May. Construction is scheduled to be completed in June, for project start up in July.

The scheme will cost 700 million yen ( around $8 million).

Japan’s FiT was launched after the great east earthquake of 2011, which prompted a drive to reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear power and gas-fired generation. Solar PV has boomed since then, though speaking in the latest issue of Renewable Energy Focus magazine, Nobuo Tanaka - global associate for energy security and sustainability at the Institute of Energy Economics in Japan and the former Executive Director of the International Energy Agency - has warned that nuclear should still have a part to play.

However, things look bright for renewables in Japan: “Since the start of the new FIT for renewable energy, momentum has been growing for construction of utility-scale mega-solar power plants. The purpose of participating in this project is based on the concept of creating the highest percentage possible of energy that is consumed in the community with renewable resources,” Kyocera said in a statement.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity