Japanese firm to build floating solar plants

Japanese firm to build floating solar plants

Japanese firm to build floating solar plants

Japanese home renovator West Holdings plans build up to 10 floating solar installations in the country with a combined capacity of as much as 20 MW, business daily Nikkei reported.

The company intends to install the first two floating solar facilities at a nature reserve in Saitama and a swamp in Osaka, both in central Japan, with a view to bringing them online in 2013 with a generating capacity of 1 MW and 2 MW, respectively.

West Holdings is currently looking for space to install large solar plants on water, a model that offers abundant exposure to the sun's rays and a stable surface, the daily said.

The company will import the needed technology from South Korea's LS Industrial Systems and ensure that the cables, gaskets and other panel parts are water-resistant, Nikkei reported.

Japan is developing a new energy plan in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, which followed a devastating March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

The nuclear disaster, the worst since Chernobyl in 1986, caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, while some 52,000 people remain displaced from the worst-hit towns.

Japan, which prior to the disaster depended on nuclear power for nearly 30 percent of its electricity, is currently keeping 48 of its 50 reactors idle.

Among the companies undertaking renewable energy projects in the wake of the accident is Spain's Gestamp Solar, which plans to invest more than 870 million euros ($1.1 billion) in solar energy plants and panels in Japan over the next three years.

Several Japanese companies, including the local units of IBM and Goldman Sachs, are planning to build one of the country's largest solar energy plants - a nearly 250 MW facility in the southern city of Sotouchi - by 2016.