Mitsui and Toshiba are joining forces to build Japan’s largest PV system, according to financial newspaper Nikkei. With a capacity of 50MW, the plant will be considerably bigger than any other in Japan and cover 800,000m2 of Mitsui-owned land in the Aichi Prefecture.

Although Japan has a relatively mature solar industry, at present, the majority of its capacity is accounted for by residential installations. However, since March’s Fukushima disaster the calls for investment in utility-scale solar have grown ever louder. And with Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s renewable energy bill likely to be passed into law in the coming weeks, the Mitsui-Toshiba system is sure to be the first of many MW-scale developments over the next year or so.

Earlier this summer, entrepreneur Masayoshi Son unveiled plans to spend US$1 billion on 10 PV plants. Other systems have been proposed for the cities of Kawasaki (20MW) and Sakai (28MW).

Should it be ratified, Kan’s bill will require utilities to buy any electricity from solar and other renewable sources and, in turn, make solar a far more financially-viable option for investors and developers alike. Around 90% of the funding for the Aichi  project  will come in the form of a low-interest loan from the government-backed Development Bank, helping cover its estimated ¥20 billion (US$262.3 million) cost.

Electricity generated will be sold to Chubu Electric Power from 2013 onwards. Other firms mooted to be involved are Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding and Toagosei.

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