Turning Japan’s farms into Solar Farms
Mitsubishi have released plans to turn Japan’s farms into solar farms. In October, Mitsubishi created a joint venture with the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, JAMC Solar, to promote installation of distributed rooftop solar systems using the rooftops of facilities owned by farmers in Japan.
On June 5th, JAMC Solar will break ground on the first of a pipeline of about 30 megawatts of solar PV at roughly 80 agricultural facilities in Japan. The first project will install 799 kilowatts of solar PV capacity on the roof of a rice warehouse in the northern Japanese city of Hanamaki. By September, the system will expects to begin selling electricity to Tohoku Electric Power Company, the local electric utility.
The project will be the largest rooftop solar PV system installed at an agricultural facility in Japan, sufficient to supply the equivalent of about 130 households with electric power.
Although JAMC Solar has already established a pipeline of future projects at livestock barns and warehouses, it plans to expand its focus to additional types of facilities where solar PV would support economic and community revitalization and strengthen agricultural infrastructure.
Solar PV sales have surged in Japan as the result of a favorable feed-in-tariff scheme that offers above-market rates for energy from renewable energy resources. The scheme requires Japan’s electric utilities to purchase electricity generated from renewable energy sources for a fixed price under the terms of a fixed-period contract. Like other incentive programs, the costs incurred by the utility in purchasing renewable energy is spread across all ratepayers in the form of a volumetric “Surcharge for renewable energy.”
The incentive program, which was enacted in 2012, is predicted to push solar installations above six gigawatts this year, making Japan the world’s second largest solar power market after China in 2013, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.