When the Japanese government announced last month that in light of the lack of nuclear power, the county’s utility companies would be required to buy electricity from renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, and have to pay increased rates, many companies announced their plans to take advantage of the incentives. Large Japanese firms like Softbank and Kyocera announced their intentions to build the largest solar power plants in the country, and even those from Canada said they would be one of the first. But it addition to all those big players, some much smaller, unexpected companies are leaping on the renewable energy bandwagon.
One of the more unique firms is the Japan Wool Textile Co., based in Osaka, who plan to close down a gold course that only results in losses, and build a 10 megawatt solar farm in its place. The company estimates that the facility will generate 400 million yen (approx. $5 million) a year in revenue by selling the electricity to the Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO). In addition, the convenience store chain Lawson has plans to install solar panels at 1,000 of its locations throughout Japan by February next year. And Kintetsu Corp., the railway company for the western Kansai region, intends in install solar panels along the empty land near its tracks.
When the advantageous pricing was announced last month, it was at the high-end of what suppliers were hoping for. Immediately after, all sorts of empty spaces of land around the country were snatched up by companies with plans to turn them into money-making power supplies. Many golf courses, were the first to be claimed, and there still remains many areas of unused land in the countryside. Towards the cities, industrial parks that were never filled with tenants have been popular choices. The one catch is that solar panel farms aren’t cheap to build. Costing several hundred million yen, only large companies with deep pockets are able join the solar power fun at this point.