Japanese utility gets US funding for solar energy project

The solar energy project set for completion in 2017 is owned by Japanese utility Chubu EPCO and is expected to produce energy able to power more than 3,800 households annually in Nagano.

The collaboration is part of a programme launched by the Japanese Ministry of Energy Trade and Industry to attract investments in solar projects to  ensure grid reliability and efficiency through increased adoption of smart energy sources.

Commenting on the development, Reuben Munger, Managing Partner of Vision Ridge said: “Today’s announcement with GSSG Solar highlights the importance of global solutions when tackling global problems like climate change and energy security.”

[quote] The project will include installation of some 143,000 SunPower modules on a large piece of land formerly a golf course, as land acquisition for implementation of renewable energy projects still remains a major challenge in the East Asian country.

Tomakin Archambault, CEO and Managing Director of GSSG Solar emphasized that the Japanese solar program will serve as a blueprint for competitive clean energy programs globally.

In addition to the funding provided by the US headquartered investment firms GSSG Solar Partners and Vision Ridge Partners, the project will also receive funding from the Shinsei Bank.

Japanese solar energy market

The development follows an early March prediction by global energy market research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) that Japan’s PV solar market will increase this year before slowdown as grid constraints will curb future constraints.

In its PV solar market outlook, BNEF forecasts Japan’s annual PV solar installation to reach 13.2GW-14.3GW in 2016.

The total capacity of grid connection limits is 25.6GW, of which 12.8GW was connected at the end of September 2015.

Challenges of land acquisition and securing financing for projects will also curtail demand for solar PV in 2017 and beyond, stated BNEF.

According to the outlook findings, TEPCO, the principal utility for the capital Tokyo and a leading power supplier in Japan, has the most installed solar capacity within its service territory. [Saft opens Japan subsidiary to tap into energy storage demand]Along with Kyushu and Chubu, the three utilities will account for 62.3% of Japan’s cumulative installed solar capacity by the end of 2017.

Japan’s move towards electricity liberalisation may help the development of more grid capacity however as the country seeks to avoid blackout scenarios as experienced in the wake of the Fukushima Daichii nuclear power station disaster.