Former Rural Golf Courses Now Solar Panels A Place For The Sea | Asahi Shimbu’s Breaking News, Japanese News and Analysis

Driving along a mountain road in Kamigori, Hayogo State, the smell of the forest entered the vehicle through an open window.

A golf course designed by Japanese golfer Isao Aoki appeared on the car’s GPS map, which now uses some up-to-date information. Behind the brick-like door is not the green road but the wind in the windy sea.

Despite the recent decline in fashion, rural golf courses may soon be back in fashion in Japan. But that is not the reason for the popularity of the sport. Power companies across the country are finding that such old courses are ideal for new solar panels.

The former golf course has been transformed into an Ako Mega solar power plant, with 260,000 solar panels covering at least 76 hectares.

The facility will generate an estimated 125 GW hours to meet the annual needs of 29,000 households. The energy for pure energy has been sold to Kansas Electric Power for more than 20 years under the government’s fodder tariff system. It is expected to reduce emissions by 50,000 tons a year.

The now-closed golf course was opened in 1990 amid Japan’s rapid economic growth. In 2017 it closed for good due to financial constraints.

According to Tokyo Shoko Research Limited Private Survey, the operator was struggling with low incomes and declining customers.

For Tokyo Electric supplier Pasico Energy KK, which produces a total of 1.4 GW of solar energy nationwide, the compound was ideal for a new solar farm.

“Golf courses offer great opportunities for solar power plants,” says Pacific Energy Property Manager Rayna Kosuge.

To plant a mega solar farm in the mountains, you have to cut down the trees and level the ground. Reservoirs should also be prepared to prevent landslides.

Everything that requires a lot of investment, but golf links, check all the boxes for the right development conditions. The power generated by operators without a major overhaul can be lucrative even if it is traded at a relatively low cost.

Solar cell modules at the Ako Mega solar power plant in Togokazu Kosugi, Kamigori,

One of the challenges they face is that of storms. Solar energy production can be affected by their degree of isolation, and unbalanced topography interferes with the proper positioning of solar cells, reducing their effectiveness.

“Flat spots are ideal,” said an official of Asahi Dengio, an Okamaya company responsible for inspecting and maintaining Ako Mega’s solar power plant. “Surface imbalances can result in differences in the output of solar panels in the morning, afternoon and evening.

But they have a big advantage in another problem area. Although the demand for green energy is growing, solar discoveries are not always accepted by locals.

Electricity producers sometimes find it difficult to obtain a permit for new changes in their area. Locals can sue for not building solar farms and criticize the environment.

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An official at the Superintendent’s Office in Cambodia, Hygo State, is investigating whether electricity is being properly sent to the grid. (Toyokazu Kosugi)

Pacific Energy has prepared about 10 town hall presentations for neighboring associations to explain the solar project and modernize the construction process.

Converting previously built golf courses to mega power plants is seen as an easy way for contractors to create local consensus on these large-scale projects.

The 66-year-old, who welcomed the Pacific Energy Project, said: “It would be better to use the land.”

Decades ago, the number of golf courses throughout Japan increased rapidly, in part because of the 1987 resort law. However, they began to criticize the threat of deforestation and the use of agricultural chemicals.

Golf courses are currently declining. According to the National Association of Golf Course Operators, there were 2,460 facilities in the 2002 peak of the industry. That figure has dropped to 2,227 in 2019. An average of 13 courses are lost each year.

The initial cost of building a golf course is very high, excluding the cost of course maintenance and other fixed costs. In addition, the slow economy and the small number of golf players have hurt golf course operators.

If old golf courses are not reorganized after closing, some worry that the result could be a lasting “negative legacy.”

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In this aerial photo, the solar cells occupy a former golf course in the state of Cambridge, in the state of Hygo. (Toyokazu Kosugi)

In August this year, the Ministry of Economy issued a forecast that by 2030 solar power would be the cheapest option compared to thermal or nuclear power, but did not take into account energy costs.

With the growing number of golf courses reserved for solar farms, the demand for used golf grids for green energy is expected to increase.

Pacific Energy is building a total of 15 megawatts of solar power across Japan, including in Cambridge.

Kosage promised that the company would “reduce the pressure on the environment and expand the use of solar energy.”

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