The largest ‘mega solar’ project built in Japan to date has gone online in Kagoshima, on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu.

The 70MW project was supplied with panels made by Japanese ceramics and electronics company Kyocera. A ceremony was held to inaugurate the project as it went online, with design and construction taking just over a year to complete.

Around ¥27 billion (US$275 million) has been invested in the project by Kyocera, KDDI Corporation, Bank of Kyoto, Kagoshima Bank, Takenaka Corporation and IHI Corporation which leases the land. The partners involved created a joint venture, Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corporation in July 2012 to launch the project. Project finance was overseen by Mizuho Bank.

Power generated is expected to total around 78,800MWh per year, approximately equivalent to the annual energy use of 22,000 average households. The electricity will be supplied to local utility company Kyushu Electric Power for 20 years. The project, around 127 hectares in area, sits on a rectangular island jutting out to sea on the coast. IHI Corporation described the area as the equivalent of around ’27 Tokyo Domes (stadiums)’ in size. The power station went online at the beginning of the month, using around 290,000 Kyocera panels.

German manufacturer SMA supplied the central inverters and monitoring systems for the Kagoshima project, with 140 Sunny Centre 500CP-JP inverters used alongside 1,260 of the company’s Sunny String Monitors. SMA established a sales and service arm in Tokyo at the beginning of 2013. SMA became the first non-Japanese inverter manufacturer to receive JET certification for its Sunny Boy inverters for the residential market. The company claims that although JET certification is not required for utility scale solar, the inverters used on the Kagoshima plant underwent the same rigorous testing.

In June, Kyocera announced that the PV plant would feature a two storey visitor centre, designed to educate the general public about solar power.

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