GE throws weight behind 230 MW Japanese PV plant

The energy arm of U.S. conglomerate General Electric (GE) has revealed that it plans to make a grand entrance into the Japanese solar market with an investment in a $777 million PV project that promises to become the country’s largest solar installation.

GE Energy Financial Services will invest in the running of the plant, which is being planned for the city of Setouchi, Okayama Province, and will boast a generation capacity of 230 MW.

Early reports from the Japanese Nikkei (Tokyo Stock Exchange) suggest that GE is planning to invest between JPY 10-20 billion yen, taking a majority stake in the company that will operate the plant, Tokyo’s Kuni Umi Asset Management.

The plant is penciled in to begin operation in 2018, and will deliver more than triple the daily output of the current largest solar PV installation in the country – a 70 MW installation on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu – and will also dwarf a 110 MW plant currently being planned by mobile phone provider, Softbank.

Exact details of how the investment will work are currently sketchy, but a spokesperson for GE Energy Financial Services confirmed that it will be an equity investment, with the company still thrashing out the finer financial details with its project team.

"Because documents about this project have been publicly disclosed by the Setouchi municipal assembly, we can confirm that if certain conditions are met, GE plans to invest in the solar power project," GE spokesman Andy Katell told Reuters.