Visit to Plant

Solar Panels of 30 Manufacturers Arrayed at Solar Plant in Fukushima

2019/09/24 04:58
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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New attraction at 'Ultraman' airport

Fukushima Airport is Fukushima Prefecture's gateway to the sky and also known as "Ultraman" airport. As the airport is located in Sukagawa City, where the creator of Ultraman, the hero of a Japanese TV program, Eiji Tsuburaya was born, figures and large panels of Ultraman are always exhibited in the airport.

In addition, this airport has another "attraction" on par with Ultraman: the "Fukushima Airport Mega Solar Power Plant," which began operation in April 2014 (Fig. 1). Fukushima Electric Power KK (Fukushima City) funded by Fukushima Prefecture and others raised funds from public and private sectors in the prefecture and constructed the power plant with an output of 1.2MW.

Fig. 1: Fukushima Airport Mega Solar Power Plant began operation in April 2014. (source: Nikkei BP)

Since the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme was implemented, mega- (large-scale) solar power plants have been constructed at many airports in Japan, making the best use of idle land in the sites. The Fukushima Airport Mega Solar Power Plant is such a plant but on a smaller scale compared with the 30MW-output project at Nagasaki Airport and some others.

The Fukushima Airport Mega Solar Power Plant is characterized by the solar panels of 30 different manufacturers across the world and the five different types of mounting systems it adopted. A total of 10 countries/regions supplied the panels, namely Japan, China, Taiwan, the US, South Korea, Canada, Germany, India, Norway and Spain (See "facility overview" for names of the manufacturers). Along with the crystalline silicon-type, which is most widely used at this moment, solar panels at this power plant include the non-crystal (amorphous) silicon-type and the thin-film compound semiconductor-type.

The plant adopted fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) and wooden mounting systems in addition to steel- and aluminum-type systems that have been adopted at many solar power plants in Japan. Furthermore, the adjustable-type, whose panel angle can be adjusted after installation, and the dual axis auto tracking-type that tracks the sun's movement were set up.

Even on a global basis, it is unusual to see so many kinds of solar panels and mounting systems at one site. Behind such a specification lies the energy policy of Fukushima Prefecture.