Solar Frontier tests solar greenhouse in Fukushima

Japanese thin film solar module manufacturer Solar Frontier has begun testing solar installations on greenhouses located on Farmland in the Fukushima area of Japan.

Fukushima – the name synonymous with 2011’s Japanese tsunami and subsequent nuclear accident – is an area of Japan that has been treated with kid gloves since the disaster two years ago.

However, emboldened by the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s (METI) "Projects Promoting Residential Solar and Economic Recovery 2012" program, Solar Frontier has begun exploring the solar potential that exists in the region by partially outfitting existing greenhouses with solar panels.

The "Greenhouse PV Demonstration Project" is a joint initiative between Solar Frontier and the Fukushima government to demonstrate the potential solar sale revenue of a selected greenhouse in the region. Solar Frontier will fit 324 solar panels with 50 kW total rated capacity across an estimated 1,300m² of greenhouse roofs – all the while within, the greenhouse continues to grow its produce.

The idea is to test how much impact the shading caused by the solar panels affects the growth of the fruit and vegetables inside the greenhouse. Results of this project are expected to be published early next year, and could determine a new agricultural revenue stream for the PV industry.

German ground mount experts Belectric are also involved in the project, constructing and engineering the project, with inverters supplied by SMA and greenhouse expertise coming from Les Industries Harnois.

As part of Solar Frontier’s ongoing commitment to aid the recovery efforts in Fukushima, the company is donating solar power systems to local elementary and junior high schools in an effort to help solar plug the energy gap created by Japan’s post-Fukushima decision to take its nuclear power plants offline.