Energy / Climate Change

May 25, 2013


Wakayama Pref. to Launch 'Mini Solar Project' for Regional Development

Keywords: Local government Renewable Energy 

Wakayama Prefecture in western Japan will launch its "Mini Solar Project" in collaboration with a company to revitalize local communities using revenue from the sales of renewable solar electricity, according to an announcement on January 9, 2013. In this project, an underpopulated municipality lends its unused facilities to a company, and the company installs a small-scale solar power generation system at the site. Then, part of the revenue from selling generated power is paid to the municipality and used for regional development. This initiative is the first of its kind in Japan.

What distinguishes the project is the use of small photovoltaic systems that require much less space than larger systems such as mega solar plants. Another key feature is that there is no economic burden on the local municipality because the partner company bears all the costs of installation, management and operation of the photovoltaic system. This project is expected to (a) promote renewable energy generation, (b) increase regional development by using the revenue from electricity sales, (c) provide independent local power sources in times of disasters or rolling blackouts, and (d) promote the use of unused facilities including closed school buildings, playgrounds and industrial lots.

The partner company is Energy Bank Japan Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Osaka Gas Co., and the candidate site for solar power installation is Kimino Town in the central part of Wakayama Prefecture.