‘World’s biggest’ floating PV project underway in Japan

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Artist's rendering of how the 13.7MW plant will look. Image: Kyocera TCL Solar.

Construction has begun by Kyocera of a 13.7MW solar PV plant in Japan which floats on water, claimed to be the largest of its type in the world to date.

The project is the fourth to be executed by Kyocera TCL Solar, a joint venture between speciality financing group Century Tokyo leasing and Kyocera, which began as a ceramics manufacturer and is now involved in areas from camera lenses to solar module production and PV plant EPC services.

The plant is on an industrial water reservoir at the Yamakura Dam, in Chiba prefecture. Expected to be completed by March 2018, Kyocera Group, holding a 19% share of the project, will construct and provide operations and maintenance (O&M) services, while Century Tokyo Leasing holds the remaining 81%. Floating structures on the JV’s projects, and those of other developers, have been supplied to date by Ciel & Terre, a French company in which Century Tokyo Leasing reportedly bought a 15% stake in December last year

Map of Kyocera TCL Solar's four floating plants to date. Image: Kyocera TCL Solar.

Kyocera began working on floating installations due to land constraints for new large-scale PV development in Japan. Other strategies used by the industry to deploy new projects in Japan’s mountainous topography and densely populated urban areas include developing plants on disused golf courses. A government scheme meanwhile offers financial support for developers who site their power plants on landfill sites.

Floating installations also offer other potential advantages, for example preventing evaporation from reservoirs and lakes while providing shading from algal bloom. Japan has many reservoirs for “agricultural and flood defence” purposes, a statement from Kyocera TCL Solar said this morning. The distinctive plants have been developed in several other markets, with the 13.7MW project just underway is thought to be the largest so far by some distance. A Ciel & Terre representative said that the company is considering much larger projects in other regions, although was not able to give further details.

The next volume of PV Tech Power, to be published in February, will include an examination of PV developments in land-restricted scenarios in Japan, including floating PV.

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