Visit to Plant

Japan's Largest Battery-equipped Solar Plant Almost Completed in Hokkaido

102MW of panels, 52MW storage battery set up on former ranch

2019/11/19 16:53
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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Renewable energy fully promoted by town

"What is the only city, town or village that faces both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan?" The answer to this question, which is likely to be asked in a quiz show, is Yakumocho, Hokkaido, Japan.

This town is situated in the north of the Oshima Peninsula halfway between Hakodate and Muroran and is known for its dairy and beef farming as well as scallop cultivation and other fishery products.

Yakumocho is enthusiastic about renewable energy development and drafted its "Yakumocho Vision for Promoting Renewable Energy Adoption" in 2017. The town is also approaching geothermal and wind farm development, operating one mega- (large-scale) solar power plant with an output of 2MW in Yamazaki District and domestic animal waste-based biogas power plants with an output of 150kW each at four locations. Given the circumstances where grid connections with Hokkaido Electric Power Co Inc (Hokuden) are growing difficult, Yakumocho is considering promoting local energy production and consumption in the form of heat utilization and hydrogen manufacturing (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Use of geothermal resources expected in Kaminoyu Hot Spring Village in Yakumocho (source: Nikkei BP)

Power generation more than 3 times town's demand

A symbolic project for such a town-wide renewable energy development is being constructed in Yamazaki and Hanaura districts along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. As you drive north on Route 5, through the window you will see solar panels orderly arrayed for about 3km on your right (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2: Solar panels arrayed along Route 5 (source: Nikkei BP)

This is the "SoftBank Yakumo Solar Park" with a solar panel capacity of 102.3MW and a grid capacity of 75MW. Construction began in March 2018, with panel and substation facility installation almost complete. Power transmission from Hokuden is slated to begin by the end of 2019, followed by test power transmission in April 2020 and commercial operation in October.

The power producer is "Hokkaido Yakumo Solar Park GK," a special purpose company (SPC) equally financed by SB Energy Corp (Minato-ku, Tokyo), engaged in the renewable energy business of the SoftBank Group, and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Co Ltd (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo).

The long and narrow project site of about 132ha is a former ranch that faces the Pacific Ocean and stretches in a north-south direction. The SPC rents the site and will run the power generation business (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3: 305,000 panels set up on long, narrow project site stretching north to south. White buildings on left in middle house storage battery system. (source: SB Energy)

Annual power generation is expected to total approximately 10,682,000kWh. This corresponds to the power consumption of about 27,967 general households and about 3.3 times the overall power demand in Yakumocho.