Ozu Town, Kumamoto Prefecture, is located in the middle of Mt. Aso and Kumamoto City and has prospered as a post-station town since the Edo period. After driving for about 10 minutes from JR Higo-Ozu Station on a main road through the downtown area, you will enter a narrow street and find vegetable farms and woods spreading ahead.
This is the rural area where the "Ozu Solar Power Plant" mega-solar (large-scale solar) power plant with an output of approximately 1.1MW is situated (Fig. 1). Shrubs grow around the fence surrounding the blue solar panels, and magnificent Mt. Aso can be seen beyond the panels (Fig. 2).
"It was like a jungle when we first visited here during our search for a candidate site for a mega-solar power plant," said Takayuki Kasama, Kyushu area manager of Shizen Energy Inc (Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo). The approximate 21,750m2 of land under the power plant was formerly a pig farming facility. It had not been used for about 30 years and no longer had a clear border because the plants and trees had grown so much.
Headed on site by foreign engineers
Shizen Energy is a venture company engaged in the development and planning of plants based on reusable energy such as solar and wind. And it has developed reusable energy power plants on its own with output as much as 150MW, and 250MW in joint projects since its establishment in June 2011. Manager Kasama, who is responsible for the Kyushu area, was introduced to the land in Ozu Town by his acquaintances, repeatedly visited the five landowners to explain the framework of the mega-solar power business and saw the project through to the end.
"The project enabled the landowners to generate rent from the land that was not being used," Manager Kasama said. "I gained understanding from them all by giving them sincere explanations."
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