Talk about a hole in one. Japan and their solar power initiatives and innovations have been receiving a lot of positive press lately, and rightly so. The latest solar initative comes in the form of a golf courses turned solar power mega plants.
The Laforet Shirakawa golf course, located in Fukushima, was regrettably another victim of the March 2011 earthquake that bought chaos and devastation to the Japanese people. Unfortunately for the local golf enthusiasts, and visitors alike, the golf course had to be closed permanently due to the serious disruption of the land on which the golf course laid. However, the owners of the golf course, Mori Trust, decided that rather than abandoning the site all together why not take advantage of the attractive land mass and build a mega solar power station.
And when I say mega, I mean mega. This gigantic plant will cost US$39 million for a phase 1 of 2MW followed by a phase 2 that will consist of 8MW. Phase 1 was completed in August last year and started producing power immediately. Phase 1 created enough electricity to power around 700 houses from 10000 solar panels that cover 6.4 ha. Pretty impressive.
Phase 2 is still in construction and seeks to use every available nook and cranny left on the course with the aim of supplying enough electricity to power a further 2800 homes.
Innovation just keeps flowing as we delve deeper into the plans of the solar power plant. Rather than spend money and time chopping down trees that existed previously on the golf course, the owners decided to come up with a pretty neat plan. By leaving the trees (pun intended) in their pre earthquake locations on the course they could strategically place the panels around them, avoiding any shade created by the trees maximizing sun potential.
The sunlight/temperatures in Fukushima are not dissimilar to that of Christchurch here in New Zealand, in winter snow is not unusual but rarely is it heavy. And summer temps are around the 23-25 degree mark. Its interesting to note that Christchurch, another victim of a natural disaster, has yet to implement any serious clean, green initiatives. The amount of unused quake ravaged land in Christchurch is astounding, perhaps we should use this land to our advantage and make use of it in a positive way, rather than the current state that this land is in. Food for thought.
Japan has begun work to transform at least 4 other quake-affected golf courses into mega solar power plants, so it will be interesting to see how this nation develops their solar power capabilities. The world watches closely as Japan takes one of the worst natural disasters in modern history and rebuilds it power supply with clean and green energy in some of the most unlikely places.