Solar Frontier Starts to Test 'PV Greenhouse' in Fukushima

2013/11/22 23:45
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Solar Frontier K.K. tied up with Fukushima Prefecture to test a "solar sharing" scheme that realizes both agriculture and solar power generation.

The company, which is based in Minato Ward, Tokyo, announced Nov 20, 2013, that it has launched the "PV Greenhouse Verification Project" in the aim of running both an "agricultural house" and solar power generation business using the roof of the house. The project was selected by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) for the "Reconstruction Project for the Promotion of the Advanced Use of Residential Solar Power Generation for Fiscal 2012 (Fukushima Verification Model Project)."

With the PV Greenhouse, Solar Frontier aims to establish a facility-based highly-profitable, sustainable agricultural business model by generating revenue from the production of high value-added agricultural products in a greenhouse and sales of electricity generated with solar power generation facilities on the roof of the greenhouse.

In the test, Solar Frontier installed solar panels using a total of 324 CIS-based solar cells (total output power: 50kW) on the roof of the greenhouse (total area: about 1,300m2). In the greenhouse, strawberries and tomatoes are grown. The company will check the growth states of the crops in the greenhouse being influenced by the shade of the solar panels by January 2014, when its contract with Fukushima Prefecture expires.

For the test, Solar Frontier employed a system developed by Germany-based Belectric, a major company that designs and constructs solar power generation systems and has experience of building facilities like the PV Greenhouse outside Japan. Also, Solar Frontier received cooperation from Les Industries Harnois, a Canada-base firm specialized in greenhouses, and SMA Solar Technology, a Germany-based major PV inverter manufacturer.