Jumping on the bandwagon, Japanese oil firm Inpex Corporation has made its first move into the solar power generation business and has announced plans to build a large-scale 2MW PV plant in Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture, Japan. The proposed plant, called Inpex Mega Solar Joetsu, represents Inpex’s first large-scale solar power generation project.
Inpex Mega Solar Joetsu will be constructed on the premises of Teiseki Topping Plant (TTP), the company’s 100%-owned subsidiary. TTP covers an area of 46,710 square metres but the plant will only take up 6,421 square metres of its site. Chiyoda Corporation was appointed as the EPC contractor and construction is due to begin in October. The construction, which will involve installing PV modules supplied by Solar Frontier, is expected to complete within months as the plant is scheduled to begin operating in March 2013.
When complete, the plant will have an annual output of 2.48 million kWh. Electricity generated from the plant will be sold to Tohoku Electric Power Co, the largest electricity company in the region.
The company has been involved in generating electricity since May 2007 by using natural gas. However, since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, the country has been suffering from a power supply shortage which has, in turn, spurred an increase in demand for solar power.
Moreover, the recently introduced feed-in-tariff has also been causing heads to turn and many companies are looking to invest in solar power in the country to take advantage of the attractive subsidies. Beginning on July 1, Japan is offering solar power producers which qualify for its scheme a FiT rate of ¥42 (US$0.53) per kWh for 20 years.
With the FiT now in place, the Japanese solar market is expected to see a boom in investment. According to independent research firm Solarbuzz, the Japanese PV market is forecast to grow by 64% year-on-year in 2012 to 2.05 GW.