Japan is now building its?largest solar power plant to date in the Oita Prefecture. It will be finished in about 18 months. Approximately 350,000 solar panels will be used, covering a 105 hectare area. Marubeni Corp. is constructing the new facility and it will sell the power to Kyushu Electric Power Company. (Marubeni currently has about 5% renewables in its energy portfolio, but it intends to grow that number to 10% in the next several years.)
The 81.5 MW project will be built on the Oita coast due to the open space there. Oita is on Kyushu Island in southern Japan, an area with mountains and an active volcano. Agriculture is prominent.
Very aggressive feed-in tariffs are the incentive the Japanese government is using to try to make a dramatic shift away from nuclear power toward renewable energy. Another large solar project is under way at Kagoshima with a 70 MW potential. It is the largest solar project currently under construction in Japan.
The Fukushima disaster was a huge wake-up call about the dangers of aging and outdated nuclear power plant designs. Initially, it seemed the Japanese government was reluctant or very hesitant about acknowledging the severity of the damage.
However, by deciding to shutter nuclear power there and make the transition to other energy sources, it has chosen the most rational course. How it plays out remains to be seen. It will be very interesting to see if there is an increase in tourism in Oita due to the presence of a new solar plant and such a large one. Oita is already known for natural beauty and hiking.