Feature Article 1
Kyocera’s Floating Solar Power Plants Contribute to Greater Diffusion of Renewable Energy Use

Photo: Rendering of the 13.7MW plant on the Yamakura Dam reservoir

While energy is indispensable for our modern lifestyles, its consumption rapidly increases with global population growth and economic growth. Stable supply of energy is now a serious issue to tackle. Under these circumstances, expanded use of solar power generating systems, which do not consume limited resources such as petroleum or coal and emit almost no CO2 during power generation, is greatly expected.

In Japan, since the renewable energy feed-in tariff (FIT) program started in 2012, construction of utility-scale solar power plants has been promoted in various parts of the country. Kyocera has constructed a number of these facilities including Japan’s largest* solar power plant (at the time of construction), Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant (approx. 70MW) in Kagoshima Prefecture, which started operation in November 2013.

* Based on research by Kyocera (as of November 2013).

Kyocera’s Floating Solar Power Plant Makes Effective Use of Unutilized Space

While utility-scale solar power plants have been constructed one after another in Japan, it has become apparent that land for installation of such facilities is running short. Therefore, Kyocera focused its attention on water surfaces, such as ponds and reservoirs, and started to construct floating solar power plants in 2014 through Kyocera TCL Solar LLC, a joint venture set up by Century Tokyo and Kyocera.

Kyocera TCL Solar LLC has already started operation of three floating solar power plants, including two in Kato City, Hyogo Prefecture, and one in Kasai City, Hyogo Prefecture. In addition, the company is currently constructing another one, the Yamakura Floating Mega Solar Power Plant, with a power output of approximately 13.7MW in Chiba Prefecture, with its completion scheduled for FY2018.

Photo: Takaoka Nishi Floating Mega Solar Power Plant (approx. 1.7MW, operation started in March 2015), Hyogo Prefecture Photo: Takaoka Nishi Floating Mega Solar Power Plant (approx. 1.7MW, operation started in March 2015), Hyogo Prefecture

Takaoka Nishi Floating Mega Solar Power Plant (approx. 1.7MW, operation started in March 2015), Hyogo Prefecture

Photo: Sakasamaike Floating Mega Solar Power Plant (approx. 2.3MW, operation started in June 2015), Hyogo Prefecture Photo: Sakasamaike Floating Mega Solar Power Plant (approx. 2.3MW, operation started in June 2015), Hyogo Prefecture

Sakasamaike Floating Mega Solar Power Plant (approx. 2.3MW, operation started in June 2015), Hyogo Prefecture

How to Install Solar Modules on Water

Solar modules are installed on floating platforms, called “floats,” first on the ground. The floats are then towed by boat to the installation location and fixed with anchors set under the water. Manufactured by Ciel et Terre International (HQ: France), floats are made of a completely recyclable material that will not cause emission of harmful substances. Hence, environmental compliance is an important part of the design and construction of our floating solar power plants.

Photo: Floating platforms being installed on the water Image: Float structure(Source: Ciel & Terre International)

Floating platforms being installed on the water

Float structure
(Source: Ciel et Terre International)

Features of Floating Solar Power Plants

  1. An installment of solar modules set on the water takes advantage of a cooling effect on the modules from the water and is expected to enable the plant to generate more power output than those installed on the ground or rooftops.
  2. As solar modules cover the water surface, it is expected to mitigate evaporation of water and prevent abnormal growth of algae.
  3. Floats are made of highly dense polyethylene which possesses excellent resistance to ultraviolet rays and corrosion and are 100% recyclable.
  4. The float assembly is designed to have sufficient strength against typhoons coupled with the sturdy float connecting technology.

Comments of the staff in charge of the marketing section of floating solar power plants

“A floating solar power plant is a promising way of installation that expands applicability of solar power. It makes effective use of the water surface of ponds and reservoirs, which have never been used for such purposes. Local people can also use the rent paid from part of the solar power sale to cover upkeep of the ponds.
As Japan is subject to great changes in rainfall depending on the seasons, there are a large number of ponds for agricultural purposes and regulating reservoirs for control of river water flooding. Considering this, we will continue to promote construction of floating solar power plants.”

   
 
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