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Japan's largest solar power facility commences operations

51 Comments

As renewable energies to replace nuclear power draw attention, the largest solar power facility in the country, dubbed Mega Solar, has started operations in Kawasaki.

With the addition of another facility to commence operations in December, the combined size of Mega Solar facilities will cover an area the size of seven Tokyo domes. The combined energy from the plants will reach 20,000 kilowatts, enough energy to provide for 5,900 households.

Mega Solar is a joint project between Kawasaki City and Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO). The city government provides the land to build the solar power plants and promote solar power generation through the project, while TEPCO will operate the solar power plants as a power supply facility.

The project consists of the Ukishima Solar Power Plant with an approximate output of 7,000 kW. It was built in a landfill owned by Kawasaki City. The second plant is at Ogishima and has an approximate output of 13,000 kW.

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51 Comments
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nice, now get some more wind and geothermal etc plants online too

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thank god! Finally some good news! Tepco?? I can not believe they are finally doing something good for us and our world! Go Mega Solar GO!! I hope this type of solar energy catches on all over Japan and we can close down all these horrible nuclear power plants ASAP!!!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Mega Solar to provide power to 5,900 household? less than 15,000 people

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Good news! Apart from the part about TEPCO being involved.. Next, the government needs to pass a law that stipulates every new house built in Japan from now on MUST have solar panels.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Apart from the part about tepco being involved

unfortunately tepco still own all the power poles and cable in the region, they have to be involved some how anyway.

every new house built in Japan from now on MUST have solar panels

true, need laws to save energy too, like "incandescent light bulbs should be banned".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

20,000 kilowatts? I'd say it's a drop in the ocean, but a drop is a bit big for the analogy. It shows how inadequate solar power still is to power Japan. Questions people should be asking are - how many hectares did this take? how long will the solar cells last? and is it cost effective?

every new house built in Japan from now on MUST have solar panels

If this was viable and cost effective, why aren't property developers doing it already? It's because it isn't.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for renewable energy. But it's way too early to be optimistic about this form of power generation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Why do you perpetuate this dumbed-down American way of describing an area by comparing it to other known structures, stadia etc.? We are not stupid, tell us what the area is in hectares or sq meters not that it covers an area the same as seven Tokyo Domes; most people have no idea how big Tokyo Dome is, I don't and I have lived in Tokyo for 13 years.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Domestic solar power generation creates an access which can be sold back to the utilities. So it is viable, and if mass produced and initially subsidised, it is very cost effective. No storage of spent nuclear waste for 20000 years, no burning fossil fuels that rely on oil prices. Just cheap( free) reliable energy 365 days a year.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Domestic solar power generation creates an access which can be sold back to the utilities. So it is viable, and if mass produced and initially subsidised, it is very cost effective.

How does subsidised = very cost effective? Answer me this: what is the cost of the solar panels (for instance in the Mega Solar project) and how long will they last? Unless you know that (and the power they produce) you can't say they are cost effective.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was about to advocate Trash to Steam Power Plants again, But I found an article that says Japan already has them and has had them since 1965.

Excerpt from article: An Osaka incinerator was outfitted to produce electricity in 1965, and the late 1970s saw a similar operation by a Tokyo factory looking to sell power to electric utility companies. The practice has been growing steadily since then. Of the some 2,000 incinerators in the nation, 130 were producing a total of 640 megawatts of power, or an oil equivalent of 232,000 kiloliters, as of the end of March 1996.

http://web-japan.org/trends98/honbun/ntj970709.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If the 2000 incinerators were producing electricity. Junk to Juice..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

an aera 7 times Tokyo Dome to power 5,900 houses, not enough land in Japan for solar power !! anyway it's still not very efficient, although don't get me wrong, i like renewables

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Solar is great, but unfortunately it is not the answer. There is not enough rare earth (manufacturing materials) on the planet to provide every home with solar panels.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

enough energy to provide for 5,900 households.

Total households from the biggest solar energy plant in Japan: 5900

Total households in Japan: 49,000,000

Total percent of energy from nuclear = 29 %

Total households powered by nuclear = 14.2 million

Total number of similar sized solar plants needed to completely replace nuclear = 2408

total number of prefectures in Japan = 47

Total number of solar plants needed per prefecture = 51

Keep in mind, this is only to replace Nuclear, which is less than 30% of all electrical power. To replace everything with solar (or wind or geothermal) multiply the final number by three. You'd need about 150 of these alternative green energy places in every prefecture to replace coal and nuclear all together.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

With the addition of another facility to commence operations in December, the combined size of Mega Solar facilities will cover an area the size of seven Tokyo domes. The combined energy from the plants will reach 20,000 kilowatts, enough energy to provide for 5,900 households.

WHY WASTE the money to build this facility to generate So little electricity, as land is a precious commodity especially after the Nuclear Disaster. Mayhap outfitting Bulidings with solar panels in Kawasaki City and Tokyo would have been a better idea. Also WHEN you have 1870 INCINERATORS that can be outfitted to be trash to steam plants to generate Electricity. Less than 10% of the incinerators are generating electricity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That is wonderful news ! 7kw is all that is needed for an individual house. I wish I could afford solar, I would be on it in a second ! The batteries and inverter is what costs the most. I'm just glad people and businesses are doing something about long term safe electricity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In the current state of technology, solar farms are not efficient enough to provide energy on a big scale. Solar energy is better as an additional source of energy for individual households/companies (on the roof of buildings).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A step forward in the right direction!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I also never understood why geothermal energy is not more developed? It could provide hot water and electricity on a massive scale in Japan. Some studies estimate that geothermal energy could provide 23.5 gigawatts.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If the NPP accident creates higher consumer prices for electricity that would be a helpful business opportunity to explore other resources that are too expensive to build, utilize or put in use at the moment.

Many years ago a J politician said (I don't remember his name) ".... first, everything must be ruined if we want to do something better". Big price to pay but now that seems to be the way business works.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The 2-3 million yen for a home solar power system is at today's prices. It would take 15-20 years to get that money back, after that it is all profit. It may even be sooner as power utilities need to raise the cost to consumers to maintain their high salaries and pensions. If solar power systems are designed and produced in Japan it would produce jobs and an exportable technology.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wish I could afford solar, I would be on it in a second !

Isn't that the essence of the problem? Solar works very well in smaller applications - road signs and lights, small electrics, etc but it's impossible to scale it, economically, to serve housing and industrial concerns.

It's just one part of the renewable energy solution needed.

Renewables aren't going to catch on with developers and individuals until it makes economic sense for entities to use them. That's why much more research is needed, to improve efficiency and bring costs down!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Solar panels aren't efficient enough THEE END. Several pieces of land the size of Tokyo Dome for 6,000 homes?! For sure 30,000 people can live in apartment buildings within the area of one Tokyo Dome. If you covered the entire surface of Japan with solar panels then maybe you would have enough to power everyone's home and office....

The world needs solutions such as Kite powered turbines, MIT Leaf or Fusion or ____

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is maybe not the most efficient way of generating electricity but it's good to see things moving in this direction. Imagine if the government stipulated that all office building designs had to incorporate solar panels as part of their design - imagine whole outside walls capturing that power. This would be a good use of space and it wouldn't take long for someone to come up with a way to incorporate them stylishly into the architectural design (different coloured coatings, etc). We already have technology capturing electricity from millions of people stomping through the ticket barriers at Tokyo station. And I heard about how heat generated in one building somewhere (Japan? Sweden?) is piped through to an adjacent building to heat that one. I

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The area of 7 Tokyo Domes to produce 20 MW power.... and that only during sunshine.

Take a pencil to figure out the enormous landmass needed to replace only one single serious conventional power plant... and tell us how to store the energy during non-productive hours too.

What a gigantic peace of politically correct idiocy.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

where in Kawasaki is it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@hitsoff

You are correct about this building, it is located in Sweden, they designed a machine that uses the peoples' body heat by transfering it from one building to another one, now that is being proactive. If only Nikola Tesla was alive and the politicians weren't so corrupt/greedy we would have seen a different outcome; I guess solar system will have to do.....for now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If only Nikola Tesla was alive and the politicians weren't so corrupt/greedy we would have seen a different outcome

I like Tesla, but he didn't have a way to circumvent the laws of physics. Think about it - if it were possible to make energy cheaper, it'd be on the market already. What company wouldn't want to undercut the competition by generating cheaper energy?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thanks gaijininfo

The Tokyo Dome is 112,456 meters squared, so 7 domes, would be about 800,000 m2 or 80 hectares for one of these solar power stations.

Following gaijininfo's calculation, to provide the energy supplied by nuclear would require 51 times that = 4000 hectares, or 40 square kilometers, or an area or land 6 and 1/3 km square in each prefecture.

Japanese prefectures range in size from 1900 Km2 (Kagawa and Osaka) to 15,000 km2 (Iwate) and 83,000 Hokkaidou, averaging 8000 Km2. So the powerstations would need to occupy an area of 2% to .05%, on average 0.5% of land space in each prefecture, or about 1.5% of land mass if all energy were supplied by solar power. I.e. A land area about the size of Osaka could supply the energy supplied by nuclear power or the size of Ehime to supply all of Japan's power.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@smorkian

I see your point, though remember, Tesla was ahead of his time, I am sure there was or is a way to maximize his ideas before, now or in the near future. Sadly, the governments would never allow it, why would they? We are their bread and butter and all they care is for their large piece of the pie and as always, we get the crumbs. However, the solar plants are the next best things to what we had before.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A step in the right direction.

But as many mention, it can only be part of an energy policy. The sun doesn't always shine, the materials needed to make the panels in most cases are not cheap or easy to extract.

For Japan, Geothermal must be the way forward. Some technology advances will be needed to increase the efficiency and allow the utilization of hotter sources closer to volanic areas.

Under current technology many studies belive Japan can generate 15% of its electricity by Geothermal. With tech advances, the % could be much higher.

The other advantage is that Geothermal is a 24 hour 7 day a week operation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

TimTak, Thanks for the detailed calculations.

Just perhaps 2 points of refinement

1 We will still need to find night time supplies . this could be done to some extent by pumped water storage etc, however you would need greater capacity in which to drive the storage pumps during the day.

This is for household consumption only, and does not include industrial, commercial, street lighting etc.

I would imagine you would need to at least double the size of the area under solar panels.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

TEPCO is operating it? Next earthquake, and the whole thing WILL explode and spoil the whole region. Just kidding... Nevertheless, please keep in mind that energy is needed to produce solar panels in the first place. Usually, it takes around ten years for a solar unit to produce as much energy as was needed to build it (including frames, connections and setting up), which more often than not is also the average lifespan of such a unit, especially under humid conditions. I'm afraid that solar energy, at least on the short run, will not be feasible in replacing other means of electricity production.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"while TEPCO will operate the solar power plants as a power supply facility."

Sigh... so the same criminals that have ruined so many lives will continue to make money and try to paint themselves heroes. Guess nothing ever really changes.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

640 megawatts = 640 000 kilowatts. Of the some 2,000 incinerators in Japan, 130 were producing a total of 640 megawatts of power, or an oil equivalent of 232,000 kiloliters. So each incinerator outfitted to generate electricity is producing 4900+ kilowatts of electricity just by burning the trash it would normally burn anyway.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nicw distraction from the truth, Japan has the worst Nuclear accident in modern times, and this is the best news they have. How about news about the cover up going on at Fukushima, what about the children being exposed to radiation. Big deal solar power wo hoo. what a joke!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most people tend to forget that research in solar cells is a very active field. There is - just as an example - the development of multicrystalline solarcells. They are slighly less efficient than monocrystalline solar cells and they cost only a fraction of those in terms of money and energy.

Then there is research of platic solar cells. It is thinkable, it can be produced in the lab - and it is just a question of time until plastic film solar cells hit the market. Maybe five years, maybe longer. Anyone in the energy business who doesn't hold a stake in solar cells at that time - kiss Your ass goddbye, because You can throw Your stocks away. At that point solar power will become unbelievably cheap. Whoever doesn't want to share in these future profits should stick to nuclear...

Nobody from the solar cell community claims that solar is a standalone solution. But all the renewables combined - solar, wind, water and geothermal - together with a clever storage technology - can do the job. And their is lots of research done towards storage... Of course all this cost a lot of money and people want to see intermediate successes. So welcome to every new solar plant. Why not build these in the contaminated areas?

Finally, one point about cheap or expensive. All nuclear plants are heavily subsidized in their planning and construction phase. They are heavily subsidized during the operational phase, since they do not have to pay appropriate insurance premiums and the amount they pay for the waste disposal is plainly ridiculous. Nuclear fuel is also subsidized in many countries. Finally, in case of an accident, it's also taxpayer money.

Thermal plants cost through global warming and air pollution.

Power is never cheap, except wind, water and geothermal. And solar at some point in the future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I found and even better article, it starts off where the previous article ended :

Turning Trash Into Cash In Japan, high-tech furnaces are vaporizing toxins and generating clean electricity

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/03_43/b3855017.htm

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So far, solar panels have proved disappointing. High initial cost, even with some local government subsidy. Expensive repairs needed after just 10 years, while power output not as high as predicted, even on very sunny days.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Solar power right now is a red herring. It only makes sense on some isolated electricity-powered objects, because it would cost too much to get them linked to the power grid. Solar farms like this are economically inefficient, the money would be better put elsewhere. They also take insane amounts of space, it might be alright for places like Arizona or Australia that have huge desert that are basically useless for anything else, but in a place like Japan where space is at a premium, it's just a bad idea.

Another problem is that solar power is generated according to weather conditions and time of day, we can't decide to produce more to answer to demand for electricity. If people want to use a lot of electricity at 7 PM and that the sun is already set, we're just out of luck. So we then require other sources of energy to kick in, which defeats the purpose of using solar power in the first case.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nice! Because what part of "We don't need nuclear power in Japan" Don't people seem to understand?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

wind earth and water can be combined to make energy we have oceans of it i think if scientists really got their heads together they could use the natural elements we were given by mother nature to run our energy and not use dangerous and stupid technology to make energy..have you noticed the amount of recent events on other plants around the world that have come under attack by mother nature ..is this a force warning us to change or Armageddon

0 ( +1 / -1 )

ps its our politicians that decide and give us petty brainwashing excuses saying its best interests for the people ...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cameron wants to build more of the damn things

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Because what part of "We don't need nuclear power in Japan" Don't people seem to understand?

Actually right now we DO need nuclear power in Japan, and that's not going to change for a while. It's sucky, but it's what we have to live with.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan does not need any nuclear power. Japans natural resources are sunshine, wind and geothermal energy.

The best thing of renewable's is, you do not need any fuel (oil, coal, uranium) to run it. After the initial installation cost, you get your energy provided for free, 25 years and more.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Timtak, you seem to be a bit off with your calculations.

If the plant is 800,000m2 then it's equivalent to 0.8km2 - so with 1km2 we'd get 25MW output.

Japan's Power Production capacity is around 281,000MW, and 30% of this is nuclear - so nuclear is around 84,300MW.

So Nuclear has 3372 times more capacity than the TEPCO solar facility - we'd need 33,72km2 to match that. That's around 1% of Japan's surface area - and 3% of its non-mountainous area. We'd need much more for the power storage facilities too.

If all energy was to be provided by solar power we'd need 11240km2, 3% of Japan, and about 10% of the non-mountainous area.

Now the average individual solar panel is 1m2 - so to replace nuclear you'd need over three trillion panels, to power all of Japan you'd need ten trillion panels. That's a lot of panels, and a lot of rare earths.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Scratch the trillions in my last paragraph and replace with billion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The best thing of renewable's is, you do not need any fuel (oil, coal, uranium) to run it. After the initial installation cost, you get your energy provided for free, 25 years and more.

Ummm, no it's not free at all. Maintenance, running the plant, load balancing (especially for solar and wind) and a whole host of costs are associated for renewable power generation. In fact, in nuclear power's case, the fuel (uranium) is a small part of the cost of power generation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In fact, in nuclear power's case, the fuel (uranium) is a small part of the cost of power generation.

I know. The by far largest chunk is the costs involved when one of those reactors has an accident.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I know. The by far largest chunk is the costs involved when one of those reactors has an accident.

A one in a thousand year accident at that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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