Visit to Plant

Solar Plant in National Park Entrusts EPC Services to Different Contractors

Drained rice fields converted into power plant, submergence prevented by filling

2019/05/27 10:16
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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Constructed on reclaimed land in Ago Bay

Shima City in Mie Prefecture, Japan, where various-sized islands are scattered along a ria coast, is entirely included in Ise-Shima National Park. What is unique about this park is that it is mostly private property.

The town of Agocho in front of Ago Bay was merged with four other neighboring towns and became Shima City in October 2004 and still keeps its name in the city. Thanks to the abundant nature, tourism, fishery and pearl industries are prospering in the town, whose name is said to originate from "Ago Bay."

The "SoftBank Mie Shima Ago Solar Park," a mega- (large-scale) solar power plant with an output of about 2MW, is located on the coast of this town. SB Energy Corp (Minato-ku, Tokyo), which is a group company of SoftBank Group Corp and is engaged in the renewable energy business, constructed this plant and began its commercial operation on March 19, 2019 (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Panoramic view of SoftBank Mie Shima Ago Solar Park (source: SB Energy)

Even from the main road on the coast of Ago Bay where I was driving, I could not see any solar panels beyond the thriving trees along the road. As I walked along the path between the trees, however, orderly arrayed panels came into my field of vision.

The south side of the solar plant is a low green hill, while there are ponds on both west and east sides. Beyond the hill is Ago Bay. In fact, the area where the power plant is located was previously rice paddies developed by draining a cove in Ago Bay. However, there were no signs of growing rice both in and around this area (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2: Plant site originally reclaimed land and adjoins wetland (source: Nikkei BP)

There is little flat land inland along a rias coast where the mountains meet the sea. Shima Peninsula is no exception and has little flat land suitable for agriculture. Accordingly, people have expanded rice paddies to boost food production in the coastal areas of Ago Bay by draining tidal flats, for example, since the Edo Period. In accordance with changes in the social situation, however, more than 80% of the rice paddies are idle at the moment.