Largest solar farm in Japan to break ground in November, backed by GE

A huge solar panel farm is set to go under construction in Setouchi, Japan in November thanks to recently closed funding from GE, which owns a 60 percent stake in the project, as well as Kuni Umi Asset Management and Toyo Engineering Corporation. The farm will cost $1.1 billion to build, and the group just closed a $867 million loan from Japanese banks, which is the largest amount of debt raised for a clean power project in Japan to date, according to GE.

The solar panel farm will stretch across 1,210 acres, and will cover a former salt field. When done, the project is supposed to provide solar power starting in the second quarter of 2019 and sell power to Chugoku Electric Power Company over a 20-year contract. Toyo Engineering and Shimizu Corporation will build the plant and a company called Chudenko Corporation will operate and maintain it.

Solar panel, Image courtesy of Andreas Demmelbauer

Solar panel, Image courtesy of Andreas Demmelbauer

Japan has been aggressively building solar projects in the wake of the decision to dismantle its nuclear plants following the Fukushima disaster. Over the past two years Japan has installed close to 11 GW of solar power projects, and has implemented an incentive program to encourage investment in renewables. Japan has over 71 GW of clean energy projects approved, and 96 percent of those are solar, according to Bloomberg.

Japan already had a long history in the solar industry before it implemented its incentive program. It has some of the largest solar panel makers in the world, including Panasonic, Sharp and Solar Frontier (part of Showa Shell). Here’s a list of some of the other solar projects that have been built in Japan in recent years.