Kyocera launches 70-megawatt solar plant, largest in Japan
Nearly 300,000 offshore solar panels will provide enough power for 22,000 homes as post-Fukushima Japan struggles with energy sources.
Kagoshima in southern Japan is known for its puffing volcano Sakurajima, green tea, and rocket launchpads. Now it has a new superlative -- the country's largest solar plant.
Smartphone maker Kyocera recently launched the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant, a 70-megawatt facility that can generate enough electricity to power about 22,000 homes.
The move comes as Japan struggles with energy sources as nuclear power plants were shut down after meltdowns hit Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima plant in 2011.
Set on Kagoshima Bay, the sprawling Nanatsujima plant commands sweeping views of Sakurajima, an active stratovolcano that soars to 3,665 feet.
It has 290,000 solar panels and takes up about 314 acres, roughly three times the total area of Vatican City.
Kyocera established the facility with six other firms as well as a company to run the plant. It will sell electricity generated to the local utility, Kyushu Electric Power Co.
A Japanese government program that began in 2012 compels utilities to buy 100 percent of electricity from certain renewable energy power plants.
To spread its solar philosophy, the Kagoshima plant hopes to attract tourists, students, and other visitors to an observation room overlooking the installation, which joins other photovoltaic attractions in Japan such as the Sanyo Solar Ark.