First Solar finishes first Japan array

First Solar has completed its first utility-scale PV projects in Japan, a 1.3MW ground-mount array on the southern island of Kyushu.

First Solar kicked off construction at the Kitakyushu-shi array last November – around the same time it announced plans to invest $100m in large Japanese PV plants.

Speaking to Recharge earlier this year, Karl Brutsaert, First Solar’s business development director in Japan, explained that the company intends to use the money as a “catalyst” – developing, building and operating the plants, though ultimately finding outside investors to buy them.

No such investor has yet been named, with First Solar confirming that it continues to hold 100% of the project’s equity.

The estimated 1,400MWh of electricity expected to be generated each year at Kitakyushu-shi will be sold to Kyushu Electric Power Company.

Brutsaert acknowledged that First Solar will use more local partners in building its projects in Japan than it typically does, at least initially. The Kitakyushu-shi array was built by Obayashi Corporation and Yaskawa Electric Corporation, with First Solar supervising and supplying modules.

In addition to its huge push into Japan’s booming utility-scale PV market – a market due for a shake-up as the government scrutinizes sluggish projects – First Solar also intends to target Japan’s rooftop market via its acquisition last year of TetraSun.

“We enter truly sustainable markets, where we believe solar power can address a fundamental need over the long term,” Brutsaert said. “Japan really fits that bill to a T.”

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