Gestamp Solar, headquartered in Spain, has announced its first utility-scale PV project in Japan, which will qualify for government support under Japan’s feed-in tariff (FiT).
The 31.6MW project will span 40 hectares, located on a former golf course in Ibaraki Prefecture, a short distance from Tokyo. Gestamp has targeted bringing the plant online by April 2015. Electricity generated will be sold to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
The FiT in Japan is scheduled to remain in place until 2020, but with rates paid out expected to degress each year. The past two years since the tariff was introduced in 2012 have seen it drop by around 10% at the start of each new financial year, which in Japan begins in April. This year, it is set at ¥32/kWh (US$0.32) for commercial customers and at ¥37/kWh (US$0.36) for residential PV system owners.
The Tokyo branch of Deutsche Bank gave Gestamp access to a non-recourse construction loan facility, amounting to around US$110 million. Gestamp Solar said it expected to announce future projects in Japan with comparable deals in place with Deutsche Bank.
Gestamp chief executive officer Jorge Barredo said that in addition to being one of the largest utility-scale projects in Japan to be built by a foreign company, the new project is also “the largest single solar project to secure non-recourse financing in Japan”.
Details of equipment suppliers have not been revealed. Hiroshi Matsukawa of Tokyo-based analysis firm RTS PV recently told PV Tech however that while it was not impossible for firms using modules made by Chinese or other foreign suppliers in Japan to gain funding from Japanese financial institutions, it is unusual and considered difficult.