Electric power purchase starts to encourage the use of renewable energy
July 4, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo
On July 1, a feed-in tariff energy system commenced. This is a system that requires utilities to purchase all of the electricity generated by renewable-energy sources such as wind and the sun and pay a fixed-price to those who generate renewable electricity generators. In Okinawa, there are moves to set up distributed solar power generation with decentralized mega-solar plants, which are large-scale photovoltaic generating facilities that allow for electricity power purchase businesses to rent roof space. An association will also be set up to oversee this. Demand for ground-mounted solar panels on unused land is also increasing. Japan has lagged behind other developed societies in the use of renewable energy, but it expects the use to increase. However, there are also some challenges ahead.
While some municipalities have begun to promote the installation of solar power units by renting roofs of houses and apartments, the solar panel construction and sales company Nissin Holdings is the first to start an electricity power purchase business in Okinawa involving the leasing of roofs on housing.
At Sunabe in Chatan, 42 units of 230-watt solar power panels were installed on roofs of housing leased to Americans. On the first day when the electricity purchased from leased roof space started in early June, the output of solar power generation was far higher than electricity power consumption. President of Nissin Holdings, Sadao Tsukayama, said, “The real future-oriented business starts from this point.”
A solar power panel system on a house has a capacity to generate 9.66 kilowatts. The company will buy surplus electricity from households, with the initial approach being for full purchase at a fixed price. Nissin Holdings plans to set up 50 ten-kilowatt size solar panels in similar residential areas and will analyze the generation efficiency and other management issues.
The company will apply to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry soon to set up 50 sets of panels for total purchase of the electricity generated from them. The project is expected to cost approximately 200 million yen if the roofs of all the houses are leased out. Nissin Holdings will pay an amount of rent to owners of the roof space equivalent to about 5% of the electricity for sale. They aim to set up a decentralized solar power generation system involving the installation of mega-solar plants. Once the certification is complete, they will phase in the installation of 100 panel systems in the area.
On June 20, Nissin Holdings established a subsidiary company called Sun Progress to look after the maintenance and management of the system. Sales manager, Toru Oshiro, said, “With a 20-year period for the feed-in tariff energy system, it is important that the system can still be running effectively to generate energy in ten to 15 years time.”
(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)
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