Community / Project

JRE Kochi Kami Solar Power Plant

November 2017#Solar power generation

Our first solar power plant in Shikoku
overcoming many challenges to begin operation

Three years and eight months after conducting our initial field survey in January 2014, the JRE Kochi Kami Solar Power Plant, a 10MW facility, began commercial operation after an unusually long development period.

The plant is in Tosayamada-chō in the city of Kami in eastern Kochi Prefecture, an area that is about 70 percent forested mountains. Although various previous plans had been made in the past 30 years or so to commercially develop the wasteland that became the plant site, nothing was ever realized. Based on that experience, the landowner and local residents doubted that a company based in Tokyo could operate a power plant there. We at JRE were strongly committed to the project as a way to “raise its flag” in Kochi. Working cooperatively with the local community, we earned their trust that we were people who would follow through and bring the project to fruition.

There were many challenges, however. The site is 750 meters above sea level and six kilometers from the connection point with Shikoku Electric Power Co., Inc. It has a 10-degree angle of inclination and is near a river that is a major source of sweetfish. All of these factors presented obstacles to construction.

The most difficult problem was connecting to Shikoku Electric’s power gird. It wasn’t commercially feasible (in terms of both time and money) for Shikoku Electric to install the six kilometers of transmission lines that were needed. Therefore, we studied the possibility of installing the lines ourselves, and invited construction companies to submit proposals for the installation of lines and other requirements. While most of these companies submitted plans that focused on the self-operated transmission tower route (like that of Shikoku Electric) over the mountains, Sanyo Engineering & Construction Inc. proposed a combination of above-ground transmission towers and underground installation. In the end we contracted with Sanyo, which began construction in September 2015 and engaged in frequent consultations with us as they carried out the project.

Although we had anticipated the challenge of working in a mountainous area at an altitude of 750 meters, it still proved extremely difficult. Because the roads were inadequate, we had to bring in some of the construction materials by helicopter. The transmission lines had to a cross class A river as well as national, prefectural, and private roads, traversing a distance of six kilometers. We built a total of four transmission towers with great difficulty. In addition, we installed heavy-duty drainage facilities to ensure that muddy water did not flow into downstream areas.

At the same time, we found ingenious ways to transform some of the challenges we encountered into project strengths. For example, by installing the solar panels at approximately the same pitch as the 10-degree incline of the ground surface, we avoided shadows that would otherwise have been cast because of panel overlap, enabling maximal power generation. Also, the completed plant site was revegetated with low-growing grass that would not impede power generation.

We are deeply grateful to the construction company and local cooperating companies that brought the project to successful and safe completion on schedule, and to local residents who provided such warm encouragement. JRE will operate the facility for the next 20 years or more and will strive to maintain it as an attractive solar power plant that is well-loved by area residents. We thank you all for your continued support.

Perspectives

Daily commitment to maintaining a power plant that harmoniously coexists with the local community over the long term

Ms. Tomoyo Nakamura
JRE Operations Corporation

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Local residents fully feel that JRE understands the importance of local interaction

Mr. Taisuke Maeda
Chairman
Shigetō District Neighborhood Association Presidents’ Council

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Looking forward to further cooperation with JRE

Mr. Tadashi Yokoya
President
Wazumi Co., Ltd.

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Providing satisfaction to both JRE and local residents

Mr. Atsuyuki Kitamura
Sanyo Engineering & Construction Inc.

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