GE Energy Financial connects 32 MW mega-solar plant in Japan

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A 32 MW PV "mega-solar" plant has this week been commissioned and connected to the Japanese grid in the country’s Okayama Prefecture.

Jointly owned by GE Energy Financial Services – the energy investment arm of General Electric – and solar developer Virginia Solar Group, the Pacifico Energy Kumenan Mega Solar Plant has been in operation for just over one month, delivering enough solar power to meet the energy needs of 11,000 local households.

The plant was constructed by EPC firm Toyo Engineering Corporation, reaching connection stage a month ahead of schedule. Asset management services are provided by Pacifico Energy K.K., while Chugoku Electric Company – a utility covering the Chugoku area – has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for the solar power produced by the Kumenan plant.

Notably, the solar plant was the first PV project in the country to introduce the global standard of non-recourse project financing, utilizing a loan worth 11 billion yen (~$100 million) to fund the project. Backers included the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, and The Chugoku Bank Ltd.

The project also represented GE Energy Financial Services’ first investment in Japan, confirmed GE Energy Financial Services’ MD and head of Asia Pacific, Sushil Verma.

"This 32 MW project has been a great first step for us," added Kazuomi Kaneto, who is the plant’s representative director. "We challenged the design, procurement, construction and finance to optimize the project and increase its viability as a sustainable energy source in the Japanese solar market."

The collaboration between Virginia Solar Group and GE marks the first of three such solar partnerships in Japan. The two firms are also currently overseeing two additional solar projects – the 42 MW Mimasaka Musashi plant (currently under construction), and the 96.2 MW Hosoe solar project, which is scheduled to come online in 2018.