Solar Power to develop 500 megawatts of photovoltaic (PV) in Japan

Solar Power Inc. on Tuesday announced a joint venture agreement with a Japanese company to develop more than 500 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power projects in Japan.

The work will be done by Solar Power and subsidiary SPI Solar Japan G.K. with Japanese company K.K. Uniroot of Osaka, Japan.

Solar Power Inc. primarily will be responsible for project funding, construction and materials. K.K. Uniroot will buy or lease land, secure permits and sign power purchase agreements with utilities. Solar Power, also known as SPI Solar, will have at least 51 percent equity interest in the joint venture.

500 megawatts is a huge amount of solar photovoltaic. Anything over about 3 megawatts is considered utility scale.

As a reference, the largest photovoltaic array in Sacramento County is a 6-megawatt array completed by SPI in 2010 on the Rancho Cordova campus of Aerojet Rocketdyne. A 7-megawatt array is now being developed on 32 acres of land at Sacramento International Airport.

In the string of deals SPI announced last year and so far this year, most were utility scale projects of around 20 megawatts each.

Japan has been developing solar power aggressively since the 1990s, and even more so since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011 when the country actively began moving away from its dependence on nuclear energy. Being an island nation, Japan can’t share electricity with its neighbors, so it is moving toward more solar. From its legacy of nuclear, Japan has a network of pumped storage projects, and those can be used to store excess solar energy for nighttime use.