City Regulates Renewable Energy for Natural Landscapes

2014/02/04 13:48
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

The government of Yufu City (Oita Prefecture) implemented a regulation Jan 29, 2014, that enables the mayor to regulate installation of renewable energy-based power generation facilities.

The city is known for tourist attractions such as the Yufuin hot springs. The regulation is aimed at preserving its beautiful natural environment and attractive landscapes.

The official name for the regulation is the "Regulation Related to Harmony Between Yufu City's Natural Environment, etc and Projects for Installing Renewable Energy-based Power Generation Facilities." It is aimed at harmonizing the preservation of beautiful nature and landscapes, which are tourist attractions, with renewable energy-based power generation facilities such as solar- and wind-power plants.

According to the regulation, it became possible to ask businesses not to carry out any renewable energy-based power generation projects expect for those that install facilities on the roofs of buildings in places that the mayor defines as areas where there is valuable nature or landscapes representing the region.

In addition, even outside such areas, the regulation requires businesses to organize meetings with concerned residents and their associations, give notice to the mayor and have talks with the mayor when the site of a renewable energy-based power generation plant is larger than 5,000m2. And, for such talks, the mayor needs to consult with a council consisting of knowledgeable people, etc.

The regulation is targeted at renewable energy-based power plants that are covered by the feed-in tariff (FIT) policy. But it was implemented mainly because of the fear that the mega-solar (large-scale solar) power plants, which are being rapidly adopted across the Kyushu area, will affect the landscapes, which are tourist attractions.

In regard to the development of renewable energy, the hot spring industry opposed geothermal power generation, and local residents filed complaints about the noise of wind power generation. Because solar power plants occupy relatively large ground surface areas in comparison with their output capacities, their impact on the landscapes might be discussed more in the future.