Leading trading house Marubeni Corp. will start construction of the nation’s largest solar power plant in Kyushu in November, which will generate enough power to light up 25,000 households.
The facility in Oita, Oita Prefecture, costing 24 billion yen ($304 million), will have the capacity to generate 81.5 megawatts. The plant will be completed by the end of March 2014.
About 350,000 solar panels will be laid out on the 105-hectare plot, equal to 23 Tokyo Domes.
Marubeni’s project launch comes as businesses are scrambling to invest in renewable energy sources after a feed-in tariff system that requires utilities to purchase electricity generated with sources such as solar and wind power at fixed rates took effect in July.
The company will sell power to Kyushu Electric Power Co., a regional utility in Kyushu, over 20 years under the feed-in tariff system.
Marubeni’s energy business is far larger than those of its rival trading companies.
It has thermal power and other plants that are capable of generating about 9 gigawatts, an equivalent of nine nuclear power plants, in Japan and abroad, including Southeast Asia.
Of this amount, renewables, including wind power, account for 5 percent of the total.
The company is set to invest in more renewable energy sources.
“We will raise the ratio to 10 percent in several years,” said Teruo Asada, president of Marubeni.
Marubeni’s plant will be built on an industrial site along the coast of Oita.
Some leading companies envisage large solar-power plants in Hokkaido and other regions, but they have never been translated into reality.
Of the projects under construction, Kyocera Corp.’s plant in Kagoshima is the largest in the country, with a capacity of 70 megawatts.
Remote regions such as Kyushu and Hokkaido are leading the nation in playing host to mega-solar plants due to the availability of large tracts of inexpensive land.
Marubeni decided to proceed with the solar-power project at the site in Oita as the company concluded that the feed-in system will make the project profitable.
The company has held onto the site for about 30 years, which was originally purchased to build a petrochemical complex.
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