Visit to Plant

Solar Plant's Business Performance Improved by Meticulous Maintenance

Mounting system design enables efficient weeding under arrays

2017/02/21 13:43
Shinichi Kato, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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The "Kyushu Solar Farm 7 Miyama Joint Power Plant" (Fig. 1), a mega- (large-scale) solar power plant with an output of about 23MW, is located on the coast of the Sea of Ariake in Miyama City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan.

Fig. 1: The about 23MW-output "Miyama Joint Power Plant" on the former Ariake Mine of the Miike Coal Mines (source: top Shibaura Group Holdings, bottom Nikkei BP)

The site, which had once prospered before closing in 1997 as the Ariake Mine of the Miike Coal Mines, was utilized as a solar power plant.

Shibaura Group Holdings Co Ltd (Kitakyushu City) and its group companies developed this solar power plant.

3 to 5 inspectors always on-site for maintenance

A group company is responsible for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of this plant (Fig. 2). This company provides all O&M services, not only regular inspections and maintenance but also emergency response and equipment replacement.

Fig. 2: A group company provides all O&M services including regular inspections and maintenance as well as emergency response and equipment replacement. (source: Nikkei BP)

Shibaura Group Holdings calls this method "super full maintenance." According to the company, this is, in other words, "a framework that means power producers do not need to think about repair and maintenance for 20 years."

With this framework, power producers can totally entrust the operation and maintenance of their power plants for 20 years without any concerns about unexpected expenses. The cost is, however, set relatively high at roughly 20% of power sales. Shibaura Group Holdings, on the other hand, can secure stable income for the O&M services for 20 years, even though the amount is not as high as power sales.

When I visited the plant for an interview, Kyushu Maintenance Co Ltd was undertaking maintenance work at the Miyama Joint Power Plant. Employees of its Omuta Branch (Omuta City, Fukuoka Prefecture), which is near the mega-solar plant, were responsible.

This branch dispatches its employees to mega-solar plants in its neighborhood in accordance with each plant's inspection and maintenance schedule. At the Miyama Joint Power Plant, three to five inspectors are almost always on-site, with others added as needed depending on the day's job.