Kyocera turns on 'Japan's largest' PV

A group of companies led by Kyocera has started operating a 70MW PV plant in Kagoshima prefecture, southern Japan, which it says is the nation’s biggest yet.

Kyoto-based Kyocera supplied 290,000 modules for the  ¥27bn ($274.7m) project.

The plant started operations during the last few days via a special-purpose company (SPC) established by Kyocera and six partners, in what it is hailing as a “new business model for utility-scale solar power generation”.

The project company also includes telecoms group KDDI, Kagoshima Bank, Bank of Kyoto, Takenaka, and IHI, which owns the land.

The SPC has started selling the electricity to regional utility Kyushu Electric Power under Japan’s feed-in tariff (FIT) system. The Japanese government’s current FIT for solar energy is ¥37.8 ($0.40) per kWh from ¥42 over 20 years.

Mizuho Corporate Bank oversaw financing for the project, Kyocera said in a statement.

The installation will generate enough electricity to supply approximately 22,000 households. Kyocera, the largest shareholder, helped build the plant and will jointly maintain it with engineering services specialist Kyudenko.

Last week, Kyocera revealed that its group net income soared 69% on the year to ¥‎42.9bn yen in the six months to the end of September, primarily due to strong sales of its solar panels.

It raised its full-year PV panel shipment target from 1GW to 1.2GW, underscoring strong demand for solar modules since Japan launched its FIT system in July 2012.

Foreign companies also benefit from Japan's solar expansion.

German inverter maker SMA Solar Technology supplied 140 of its Sunny Central 500CP-JP central inverters and 1,260 string monitors for the Kagoshima solar array.

“The fact that SMA system technology is being used for Japan’s largest PV power plant underscores our excellent position in this key market,” said SMA chief executive Pierre-Pascal Urbon.

“By the end of the year Japan is expected to surpass Germany as the world’s strongest photovoltaic market in terms of sales.”