Solar Power Plant Welcomed as New City Landmark (page 3)
Aim to build close ties with local community by setting up visitor facility
Project included in an "industrial sightseeing tour"
In fact, the construction of a mega solar power plant in the industrial site is a mixed blessing for the local municipal government. At the moment, increasing employment opportunities is one of the most important challenges for municipal governments. Developing industrial sites and inviting companies to the sites can be a key factor to meet this challenge. Although mega solar projects generate little new employment, no additional plants can be constructed for 20 years while the power generation business is ongoing. If the sites continue to be idle, however, the mega solar construction would benefit the government due to the fixed asset tax.
Sanyo-Onoda Municipal Government is not expecting large-scale new employment thanks to the mega solar project but is planning to turn it into a new attraction by making the most of its location close to an urban area and the donation of the visitor facility.
Given the few tourist resources near the city, Sanyo-Onoda has long been promoting the existence of diverse industrial facilities including nearby cement-related facilities and other industrial heritage sites. Joining hands with the adjoining municipalities of Ube and Mine, Sanyo-Onoda Industry Tourism Promotional Association has planned and offered "Industry Tourism Bus Tours" since fiscal 2008. One of the tours is called "Energy Sanyo-Onoda – the Energy Industry's Current State and Environmental Approach." In this tour, visitors are taken to coal- and oil-related facilities at local companies, the Chugoku Electric Power's thermal power plant and the solar panel factory of Choshu Industry, which has its headquarters and factory in Sanyo-Onoda City. The association is planning to add the mega solar plant in Higashioki Factory Park to this tour when the plant is completed.
Mr. Kido of the Sanyo-Onoda Municipal Government expressed his expectations, saying, "As there are only a few areas that allow visitors to see oil-, power- and new energy-related facilities in one day, our energy-related tours will grow more attractive when this mega solar plant is added to the list."