The "Tottori Shizen Kankyou Kan (Natural Environment Center)" opened in an area adjacent to a mega-solar (large-scale solar) power plant being constructed in Yonago City, Tottori Prefecture, Japan, Oct 20, 2013.
The center was built for introducing the power generation facilities of the "Softbank Tottori Yonago Solar Park," a 42.9MW mega-solar power plant that will start operations in February 2014, other renewable energy-based power generation facilities in the prefecture, the activities of NPOs (nonprofit organizations) working on environmental issues of the area, etc.
The Softbank Tottori Yonago Solar Park is run by a fifty-fifty joint venture formed by SB Energy Corp (Minato Ward, Tokyo), which is affiliated with the Softbank group, and Mitsui & Co Ltd. The maximum output power of the solar power plant is 42.9W, which is one of the highest output powers for a solar power plant in the main island of Japan.
In September 2013, 178,800 panels manufactured by Sharp Corp were installed. Because the appearance of the power plant is already the same as that of the completed plant and it became possible to accept visitors, the Natural Environment Center was opened ahead of the start-up of the plant.
"This is the first center in Japan that is located adjacent to a mega-solar plant and used for introduces environmental activities in surrounding areas," said Akio Hayashi, the deputy governor of Tottori Prefecture.
In the area surrounding Lake Nakaumi, near which the mega-solar power plant is located, local residents are actively engaged in environmental activities. For example, an NPO called Nakaumi Resurrection Project has been working on environmental conservation.
Also, Tottori Prefecture was authorized as a "next-generation energy park" by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Sept 17, 2013. The next-generation energy park scheme was established for helping municipalities that are making efforts to make new energies acknowledged by local residents and use the energies for the development of the area.
In the prefecture, there are several renewable energy-based power generation facilities that have already started operations in addition to the mega-solar plant under construction such as a 13.5MW wind power generation plant in Hokuei-chou and biomass power generation facilities in the Yonago plant of Oji Paper Co Ltd.
The Natural Environment Center is used for introducing the activities of NPOs working on environmental issues and new power generation facilities in the prefecture. And it functions as the core facility of the next-generation energy park.