Determining whether farms and solar power can share the same land in regions with lower levels of sunlight
Tuesday, June 14, 2016 – Tokyo, June 14th, 2016
Tokyo, June 14th, 2016 – Solar Frontier announced today it has provided its CIS solar panels for a “solar sharing” experiment on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture, Japan.
“Solar sharing” in Japan refers to the practice of using the same plot of land to simultaneously grow crops and generate solar power. In such cases, solar panels are installed high above the crops and spaced further apart than usual, enabling sufficient sunlight to pass through and farmers to work below. This business model has been gradually spreading across Japan, helping farmers earn additional income by selling electricity.
Advancing this experiment is the University of Tokyo’s IR3S (Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science). It aims to evaluate the potential economic impact of solar sharing on Sado Island, where the population is both declining and ageing. It is doing so as part of a broader project, which looks at using renewable energy and maximizing natural resources to achieve a low-carbon society and help revitalize communities.
Solar Frontier has provided 10 kilowatts of its lightweight Solacis neo CIS solar panels for this experiment. In real-world conditions, CIS solar panels yield more electricity than crystalline silicon panels, including areas that receive lower levels of sunlight such as Sado Island. Today, this is being demonstrated by installations such as the Niigata Yukiguni Megasolar Power Plant, connected in 2010 in Niigata Prefecture, as well as smaller projects such as Gakko Gura (“school cellar”), a Japanese sake brewery that re-uses the building of a former elementary school on Sado Island.
Solar Frontier’s solar panels have been installed facing south at a low inclination angle of 13.5 degrees, and are expected to generate approximately 11,000kWh per year. The solar panels have also been installed 2 meters high, enabling the farmer to tend to his crop. In this particular case, it has started with a round of broccoli which will be followed by a range of seasonal vegetables as the year progresses. As a result, the test will provide data on light-shielding rates and crop yield for the Washizaki district, an area with relatively difficult farming conditions.
The installation and crops are being managed by the “Association for Developing Sado Starting from Washizaki”. Mr. Taro Honma, president of the association, is the producer of Umi no Kome (Rice of the Sea), a brand of rice that won the Sushi Rice Special Award at the Sushi Rice Contest International Tournament in 2015. He is also a practitioner of a completely organic farming method that helps protect the Japanese crested ibis, a rare species of bird in the region.
Solar Frontier will continue to focus on collaborating with industry, academia and government, utilizing its CIS thin-film modules to promote distributed energy generation initiatives rooted in local regions.
About Solar Frontier
Solar Frontier is the world’s largest provider of CIS solar panels, system solutions and services. Our solar panel technology delivers economical and environmental advantages in real-world conditions – where it counts – and our solutions range from innovative rooftop systems to professional power plant development services. We harness the power of the sun to provide a cleaner, more comfortable life for all.
Solar Frontier K.K. is, a 100% owned subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. (TYO:5002) (“Solar Frontier”) and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Visit http://www.solar-frontier.com/eng/ or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.
IR3S (The University of Tokyo Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science) was founded in 2005 within the University of Tokyo with a vision of building a sustainable society through linking global, social and human systems. Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., the parent company of Solar Frontier K.K., has been working together with IR3S in pursuing sustainability of energy, aiming to develop a sustainable social system. As a specific activity for this purpose, IR3S works on social implementation engineering research aimed at enabling self-sustainability of local energy, by promoting energy conservation while making the most of natural resources including renewable energy, in Sado City, Niigata Prefecture. http://en.ir3s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/