Visit to Plant

Public-private Solar Plant Energizes Agriculture in Kumamoto (page 4)

2019/10/22 20:23
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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Local specialty 'licorice' used in local beer

What the project approached next was commercializing local beer that uses Koshi City's regional agricultural products. On March 28, 2018, the rollout of the new "Halo Kumamoto Beer" took place at "KAEN," a restaurant in Higashi-ku, Kumamoto City (Fig. 9).

Fig. 9: New beer announced at a restaurant in Kumamoto City (source: Koshi City)

The new beer announced that day used "licorice" which Koshi City cultivates as a flavoring. Licorice is said to have a long history of being used as a medical herb and a sweetener throughout the world. Although "licorice beer" that uses licorice as a flavoring is standard overseas, a product which uses licorice raised in Japan is rare.

This beer is sold in 330ml bottles and has an alcohol content of 6%. It is manufactured at KAEN, the restaurant where the rollout event took place. This restaurant is also a micro-brewery (small-scale beer brewery) equipped with tanks and brewing tools at the back, and roughly 500 bottles of the new beer were manufactured in collaboration with Koshi Agricultural Energy Fund (Fig. 10).

Fig. 10: Beer brewing equipment inside restaurant (source: Koshi City)

The new beer served for tasting received favorable comments such as "less bitter and tastes refreshing with a hint of licorice left behind after drinking."

Shizen Energy Farm launched its food brand "Halo Japan Food" with the aim of planning and producing, in tandem with farmers, food that leverages agricultural products across Japan where the Shizen Energy Group's renewable energy-based power plants are located. The "Halo Kumamoto Beer" was the first release from the brand (Fig. 11 & 12).

Fig. 11: Income from solar power sales used to support product development of new "Halo Kumamoto Beer" (source: Nikkei BP)

Fig. 12: Shizen Energy Group approaches product development using regional specialty under brand name of "Halo Japan Food" (source: Nikkei BP)

New rice cultivar development supported

Furthermore, the development of a new rice cultivar led by Kumamoto Flour Milling is also being supported as an aggressive agriculture project of the Koshi Agricultural Energy Project.

For example, "WE Rice," which Kyushu University developed and Kumamoto Flour Milling produces in collaboration with farmers in Koshi City, is hard to digest and has a lot of vitamins, helpful in combating diabetes and lifestyle diseases.

When it came to supporting new farmers, the project helped conduct training seminars for enterprises aiming to enter the agricultural industry from other industries as well as the children of farmers who were also interested in agriculture.

Funded by the profits from the mega-solar business, the Koshi Agricultural Energy Project aims to contribute to energizing agriculture by providing sustainable support from multiple directions such as personnel training, agricultural infrastructure and new product development along with "aggressive" and "protective" agriculture.

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