Kyocera explores 430MW Japan island PV project

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A 430MW PV plant featuring over 1,000,000 multi-crystalline silicon solar modules could be constructed in the south of Japan by a consortium of five companies that includes Japanese ceramics, optical lens and module maker Kyocera.

Kyocera issued a statement yesterday that it had signed a basic agreement to develop the plant, which will be built on an island near Nagasaki, to the south of the main Japanese island of Honshu.

Making the agreement with Kyocera were German developer Photovolt Development Partners, Kyudenko Corporation, which specialises in design and construction of electrical facilities, telecoms and other infrastructure. Japanese financial services group ORIX Corporation and Mizuho Bank, both of which has a track record of investing in PV, were also party to the agreement.

Photovolt had actually started planning the project in April of last year, aiming to start construction during the 2016 financial year, which in Japan runs from April 2015 until March 2016. Photovolt opened a special purpose vehicle company, Terasol, to oversee development.

The plant, as planned, will consist of a number of arrays spread across as much as 25% of the island’s surface. This area of Japan has already seen a number of PV projects go into the ground, consisting as it does of a series of relatively small and isolated islands that enjoy a high level of solar irradiance throughout the year.

Investment required is estimated to be as much as 150 billion yen (approx. $1.47 billion). One of the most seemingly ambitious aspects of the project will be installing undersea cabling, 60km of it, intended to transmit the electricity generated to the larger southern island of Kyushu, with the power to be sold to local utility Kyushu Electric Power Co. It will receive Japan's feed-in tariff rates for its electricity.

Another unusual aspect of the plant is that the land will be leased from local landowners and the arrays built on stilts, so that much of the land will enjoy dual use and continue to be used for agriculture as well as for the PV plant.

The PV plant itself, the latest in a number of downstream projects for Kyocera, will utilise 1,720,000 Kyocera modules with the company also in charge of construction, maintenance and management. According to Kyocera, the plant will generate around 500,000MWh of electricity a year which the company estimates is equivalent to the energy use of over 130,000 households.

At present the companies are still at the discussion stage where all five have agreed to “explore” the project. Mizuho and Kyocera collaborated previously on one of Japan's largest PV plants to date, a 70MW project in Kagoshima.

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