By Alex Girda, Associate Editor
Kato City, Japan – A joint venture between Kyocera Corp., Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. and Ciel et Terre International is set to begin work on the largest floating solar installation in the world. Set to take shape in Kato City, Hyogo Prefecture, the platform will be one of two different such project planned for the area.
Kyocera TCL Solar LLC is building two separate floating solar platforms totaling 2.9 megawatts at Nishihira Pond and Higashihira Pond in Kato City. The Nishihira Pond installation will be the largest project of its kind to operate in the world in terms of output, being set to produce 1.7 megawatts. The joint venture was established two years ago by Kyocera and TCL in order to operate utility-scale solar projects in Japan, having already started off 11 of the 28 solar power plants on Japanese property.
According to a press statement announcing the two projects, the joint venture’s move to build floating solar installations is the result of increasingly cumbersome procedures to secure land tracts for conventional solar plants. Additionally, Japan has vast water surfaces due to its extensive use of agricultural and flood-control purposes, meaning Kyocera TCL Solar will intensify development initiatives on water surfaces, supplementing its ground-mount systems and rooftop installations for industrial properties. The total amount of floating solar plants to be developed by the company by the end of the current fiscal year will total around 60 megawatts.
Kyocera TCL Solar is using technology created by Ciel et Terre, with the Hydrelio floating solar platforms set to be the product of choice for the two Kato City installations. Ciel et Terre’s tech has shown satisfactory results in the company’s French ventures over the past three years. The panels are 100 percent recyclable, due to the use of high-density polyethylene that is resistant to UV rays and degradation.
The power produced by the Nishihira and Higashihira plants will be enough to power roughly 920 households, and will be integrated in the local utility through the country’s feed-in-tariff system. Start of operation at the plants is currently set for April 2015. The project will also aid reducing reservoir evaporation and algae growth by keeping shade on the water. Another advantage of the floating panels is the fact that this type of installation generates more power than those mounted on the ground and on roofs, due to the cooling provided by the water.