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World’s largest solar farm planned for Japan

The solar power plant (described as a “farm”) will be a floating platform. It is being designed by Kyocera, an electronics company. The aim is harness enough energy to power up to 5,000 households (with the houses located close to the plant in the Chiba region.) The facility should be operational by the end of 2018.

Solar power describes the conversion of sunlight into electricity. This is either undertaken directly using photovoltaics or indirectly, through concentrated solar power. Photovoltaics (describes the conversion of solar energy into direct current electricity via semiconducting materials, as with solar panels. Concentrated solar power involves the use of mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight to create thermal energy.

The new project will take place on the Yamakura Dam near Tokyo. The structure will cover an area of 44.5 acres and it will include some 51,000 solar panels. The designers estimate the plant will produce 13.7 megawatt hours to the 5,000 homes. The plant is expected to offset 8,170 tons of carbon dioxide emissions (or equivalent to 19,000 barrels of oil per year.)

A Kyocera spokesperson told Laboratory Roots Magazine, the inspiration behind the project was to utilize Japan’s “abundant water surfaces of reservoirs for agricultural and flood-control purposes.”

Japan has been looking at various alternative power projects. How much of this is influenced by the nuclear disaster at Fukushima is uncertain, given the absence of comment from the Japanese government.

In another part of Japan, a bidding process has begun for an unfinished solar power plant. The plant is located in Hiroshima. Bidding runs from February 12 thorough to February 19, and it will be run by Yahoo! Finance. An interesting concept, but is this a sign of dwindling support for solar power in Japan?

Not so, according to Kenji Araki, a spokesman for West Energy Solution which is auctioning the Hiroshima plant. Araki told the Financial Times: “By selling it on Yahoo, we can attract a wider range of customers and sell to people we couldn’t contact in the past.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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