Kyocera announced that it has completed installation of its solar modules for the first phase of the SoftBank Kyoto Solar Park (Kyoto City, Japan), and that the approximately 2.1 megawatt (MW) installation began operation yesterday to coincide with the start of the new Japanese feed-in tariff (FIT) for renewable energy. The SoftBank Group subsidiary in charge of renewable energy business, SB Energy Corp., will be the operator of the solar power plant. An inauguration ceremony was held on July 1, where SoftBank CEO, Masayoshi Son, and Kyocera founder and chairman emeritus, Kazuo Inamori, both gave speeches to mark the start of operation.
"It was only a few kilometers from this place here where Kyocera took the initiative to set up a research center for the development of photovoltaic cells more than thirty years ago," stated Kyocera chairman emeritus Kazuo Inamori. "At that time there was little interest in solar energy, but Kyocera tirelessly continued on with our R&D, sacrificing while our solar business segment operated in the red year after year. That hard work eventually paid off as Kyocera was the first in the world to mass produce multicrystalline silicon solar cells. That is why it fills me with emotion to see this spectacular solar park that Mr. Son has created, and I believe that it is symbolic to have this mega-solar project here in the same area where Kyocera's early R&D into solar power was first undertaken."
Start of New Feed-in Tariff
Effective July 1, 2012, solar installations which produce more than 10 kilowatts (kW) of solar energy are subsidized with a feed-in tariff of 42 yen (approx. 53 cents*1) per kilowatt hour for a period of 20 years. The same rate is also applied to installations with an output of less than 10 kW -- but for a period of ten years. With the start of the new FIT on July 1, the domestic solar market in Japan is expected to double compared to the previous fiscal year.
Within the new FIT, 100 percent of the energy generated from a solar installation 10kW or over will be purchased. This means that new installations which previously would have only been able to sell the excess energy not used at the point of generation can now receive the above rate for all energy produced, allowing them to sell at a higher rate than they purchase from the utility companies. The new FIT also guarantees fixed purchasing prices for power generated from geothermal, wind, hydro and biomass energy sources.
Overview of the Project
For this project Kyocera Group companies were in charge of solar module supply (KYOCERA Corporation), system design and material procurement (KYOCERA Solar Corporation), and the construction of the mega-solar project (KYOCERA Communication Systems Co., Ltd.). SB Energy Corp. will be the operator of the large-scale solar power plant.
The first of two phases of the overall project sees 8,680 Kyocera modules equaling approximately 2.1MW of solar power installed in the southern part of Kyoto City, Japan. This will generate roughly 2.1GWh of electricity annually, which is enough to supply power for approximately 580 households*2. The second phase of the project has already begun construction in June of this year, with operation set to start on September 1, 2012.
Kyocera's large size, high-output 242-watt solar modules are being utilized for this project. These modules are optimal for use in large-scale solar plants as they decrease the amount of installation equipment and labor required to construct a power plant of this size in comparison to use of a higher number of smaller conventional modules. Furthermore, the system will use Kyocera's patented anti-dust modules which have a structure that prevents dust and water from collecting on the surface -- by allowing rain water to wash off build-up via drainage channels along the frame of the module (these modules are only available to the Japanese market). This helps prevent the adverse effect of dust build-up on the module's glass surface -- especially for modules installed at a low angle -- which decreases the power output.