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Firms Grow Garlic Under Solar Panels in Chiba

2019/12/28 17:32
Sousuke Kudou, technical writer
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The farming solar power plant that started operation this time. Shimizu Managing Director Nasuhara (right) and Chiba Eco Energy President Magami (left) (source: Chiba Eco Energy, Tsunagu Farm and Shimizu)

Chiba Eco Energy Co Ltd (Chiba City), Tsunagu Farm Inc (Chiba City) and Shimizu Corp developed a farming solar power plant (for solar sharing) in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, and started commercial operation of the plant Sept 20, 2019.

This was announced Dec 25, 2019. Chiba Eco Energy is a venture firm spun off from Chiba University, and Tsunagu Farm is a company established by Chiba Eco Energy.

For the plant, "Chiba Ookido Farming Solar Power Plant," 60kW of solar panels were set up. The amount of electricity generated at the plant is equivalent to the power consumption of 20 households. The solar panel and PV inverter employed for the plant are products of Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd and SMA Solar Technology AG, respectively.

The three firms aim to realize a community-based business model while supplying electricity generated at the plant to utility customers through the retail electricity business of the Shimizu group.

Under the solar panels, garlic is grown. The companies aim to create a sustainable community for the recycling-oriented coexistence of urban and rural areas by, for example, organizing (1) tours that enable power producers and utility customers to experience farmwork and (2) markets in business districts to sell agricultural products grown at the plant.

In the project, Chiba Eco Energy, Tsunagu Farm and Shimizu are responsible for O&M (operation and maintenance) services, farming and power generation business, respectively.

The government of Chiba City formulated the "Revised Version of Chiba City's Plan for the Introduction of Renewable Energy, Etc," which has a goal of introducing 6,443kW of solar power plants using agricultural land by fiscal 2030. Chiba Eco Energy and Tsunagu Farm will (1) introduce renewable energy-based power plants that contribute to the city's energy policies and (2) run a business for promoting the local agriculture.