Land-constrained Japan sees utility scale solar reach 1,185m altitude


Land-constrained Japan is currently seeing a larger number of utility scale solar projects being built in mountainous areas, due to lack of available flat land and increasing measures to limit the deployment of solar parks in agricultural areas.

One of these projects is a 37 MW solar plant built by Singapore-based renewable energy developer Vena Energy in Kawakami, a village located at an altitude of 1,185m in Japan's Nagano prefecture.

The Kawakami Solar Project was built under Japan's feed-in tariff scheme with around 89,000 bifacial photovoltaic solar panels on a surface of 49.87 hectares.

The Kawakami Solar Project.

Image: Vena Energy

“The Kawakami Solar Project is our first renewable energy project in the Nagano prefecture and we are grateful to our host communities for their support,” said Juan Mas Valor, head of Vena Energy Japan. “With its completion, Vena Energy now operates a total of 26 solar and wind projects, totaling 516 MW across Japan.”

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Japan-based engineering company Airu has provided construction works for the facility.

Land scarcity and grid congestion were recently pointed out by the International Renewable Energy Agency as the two main reasons behind the limited success of Japan's six solar auctions and the high costs of PV installations in the Japanese market. Furthermore, the agency reported it is difficult to secure permits for a solar park above 40 MW in size in Japan, as there is a long approval process which comes on top of high land costs and grid congestion.

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