Japan's Largest Solar Plant Built in Kagoshima

2013/11/06 09:28
Shinichi Kato, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corp had a ceremony to celebrate the completion of "Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega-solar Power Plant," a large-scale solar power plant with an output power of about 70MW, Nov 4, 2013.

Kagoshima Mega Solar Power was established by the Kyocera group and other companies and is based in Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega-solar Power Plant is located in Nanatsujima, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture.

The largest-scale mega-solar plant in operation in Japan has been "Nissan Green Energy Farm in Oita," which was built by JGC Group and started operation in May 2013. Its power generation capacity is about 26.5MW. But the capacity of the new plant is much higher than that.

"It is praiseworthy to have reached this point in consideration of the low-power power generation devices that our company was developing at the time when we started to develop solar panels," said Kazuo Inamori, chairman emeritus of Kyocera Corp, who attended the ceremony.

The ceremony was also attended by Nobuo Kitamura, president of Kagoshima Mega Solar Power, which is the plant 's operator, and executives representing the seven companies that invested in Kagoshima Mega Solar Power: Kyocera Chair Tetsuo Kuba, KDDI Chair Tadashi Onodera, IHI Chair Kazuaki Kama, Kyudenko President Matsuji Nishimura, The Kagoshima Bank President Motohiro Kamimura, The Bank of Kyoto President Hideo Takasaki and Takenaka Chair & CEO Toichi Takenaka. A total of 119 people attended the ceremony.

The mega-solar plant in Nanatsujima was built on a reclaimed site that is located in the coast of Kagoshima Bay. The area and perimeter of the site are approximately 1,270,000m2 and 4.3km, respectively. It takes about one and a half hours to circle the site on foot.

The site was previously IHI Corp's factory site. IHI, which participated in the mega-solar project as an investor, will receive rent for the site for the next 20 years or so.

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The plant uses about 290,000 polycrystalline silicon solar panels manufactured by Kyocera. The PV inverter of the plant is provided by SMA Solar Technology AG. Probably, this is the first time that SMA Solar Technology's PV interter has been employed for a mega-solar plant in Japan. This time, 140 units of the 550kW inverter were installed.

The employment of the PV inverter made by SMA Solar Technology, which has sold its products to many mega-solar plants in the US and European markets, for the current largest-scale mega-solar plant in Japan makes concerned parties to pay attention to whether its PV inverters will be used for other mega-solar plants to be built in Japan.

Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega-solar Power Plant was constructed by Kyocera Solar Corp (Kyoto City, Kyoto), Kyudenko Corp and Takenaka Corp. The period between the start and completion of the construction was as short as one year and two months because up to about 450 workers were engaged in the construction per day and a total of about 78,000 workers worked at the construction site.

The amount of electricity generated by the plant is expected to be about 78,800MWh per year, which is equivalent to the amount used by 22,000 households or 2.2% of the power demand in Kagoshima Prefecture. All of the generated electricity will be sold to Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc.

The total cost of the project is considered to be about ¥27 billion (approx US$275 million). The aforementioned seven companies including Kyocera invested ¥4.3 billion, and the rest of the cost was raised through project finance managed by Mizuho Bank Ltd.

A facility where visitors can learn about solar power generation was also built on the site of the mega-solar plant. From an observation deck, it is possible to see about 290,000 neatly-arranged solar panels in front of Mt Sakurajima. It is quite impressive, and the power plant will probably become a new landmark in Kagoshima.