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Local communities oppose mega solar power generation facilities

  • 2016-01-04 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: January 4, 2016 – p. 3)

 

 In response to the government’s policy to increase natural energy after the Great East Japan Earthquake, there has been a rapid increase in the number of solar power generation facilities in the country. On the other hand, there have also been increasing cases of local residents opposing such facilities. Many of them express concern about the danger posed by solar panels laid out on large tracts of land or complain that they spoil the landscape.

 

 The rush to set up solar power plants started in 2012 with the introduction of the feed-in tariff (FIT) system mandating the purchase of renewable energy at fixed prices for the purpose of increasing the use of natural energy.

 

 As of August 2014, 3,291 mega solar facilities with output of over 1,000 kilowatts were in operation, which was 274 times the figure before the FIT system started. There are many more projects that have received approval from the government but have not started actual construction. Since these facilities make use of idle land, they have multiplied as part of regional economic development measures.

 

 On the other hand, there have been cases of friction between the local residents and outside developers.

 

 A mega solar project was proposed in the Iinuma district of Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture, a major apple producing area, in 2013. A Tokyo company wanted to cut down trees on approximately 20 hectares of forestland on a slope to install 44,000 solar panels. The local residents’ association organized a group that has been opposing the mega solar project since then.

 

 The local residents claim that this will heighten the risk of landslides during torrential rains.

 

 An investment company from Tokyo is planning to set up 32,000 solar panels on a slope in a hilly area of Yufu City, Oita Prefecture. However, this area is considered to be a scenic spot. In addition to increased danger during disasters, there are concerns that the facility will spoil the scenery.

 

 In 2013, a joint venture company affiliated with a major communication group installed around 50,000 solar panels on land owned by the prefectural government north of the Yoshinogari archeological site in Saga Prefecture. Citizens’ groups in this area formed an association to preserve the entire Yoshinogari area. They are strongly demanding the relocation of the power plant because many archeological sites and artifacts have been found in this area. (Slightly abridged)

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