Visit to Plant

5 Types of Weed Control Sheets Being Tested for 3 Years at Solar Plant

2019/08/05 08:04
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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Evacuation directive lifted April 10, 2019

The town of Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, is one of the municipalities in which the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is located, and all of the residents were ordered to evacuate from the town following the nuclear accident in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake. On April 10, 2019, eight years after the accident, the evacuation directive was lifted for Ogawara and Nakayashiki districts in the town, and it finally became possible for the town residents to return home.

5 types of weed control sheets installed

The "Okuma Town Furusato Revitalization Mega Solar Power Plant" began operation in this district in December 2015. Fukushima Electric Power KK (Fukushima City), which is financed by Fukushima Prefecture and other entities, started the power generation business renting the site from 11 landowners as the proprietor. Power generated at the 1.89MW-output plant is sold using the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Okuma Town Furusato Revitalization Mega Solar Power Plant at time of completion (source: Fukushima Electric Power KK)

The site was originally rice and vegetable fields of Category 1 farmland in Agricultural Promotion Areas. It was usually difficult to convert this category of farmland; however, conversion was approved as a special case under the Act on Special Measures for the Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima. However, after the 20-year power generation project is over, the site will be restored to farmland.

Part of the revenue from power sales is used for the town's reconstruction project while five types of weed control sheets are placed on about 1ha of land in the approximately 3.2ha site with the aim of validating their weed control effects, durability, etc. In light of the sharply increasing number of solar power plants in the prefecture, the plant aims to accumulate and release data from this project as its operational knowhow.

The Okuma Town Furusato Revitalization Mega Solar Power Plant is located in a narrow and long west-east area sandwiched between Prefectural Road 166 and the Ogawara River. The ground descends eastwards in stages with the existing terraced fields kept as they were. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services were provided by IHI Plant Construction Co Ltd, which set up about 7,700 solar panels made by Trina Solar Ltd of China. The plant incorporates PV inverters manufactured by Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems Corp (TMEIC) and aluminum mounting systems manufactured by Nabesei Co Ltd (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2: Located along Prefectural Road 166. Trina Solar panels and TMEIC PV inverters adopted (source: Nikkei BP)

As another mega-solar plant with an even higher capacity of 11.7MW is operating across the Joban Expressway, it has become an area of solar power plant integration in Ogawara District. A reconstruction base including the new city hall and public housing is a 5- to 6-minute drive to the south from here.