Solar power has always been in the eye of the global economic market. More and more businesses understand that the more sustainable the business practices are, the bigger the response from the customers is.
In Japan solar power is being used more and more on farmland across Japan not only to grow crops but also with the purpose to generate power. It allows for farming to create a two-part source of income and efficient use of farmland.
Furthermore, the increase of solar power use on Japan’s farmlands helps the Japanese government’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Of course, this sustainable generating of power doesn’t come without its issues.
At the Farmdo Group in Gunma prefecture, solar panels installed on top of greenhouses have been generating electricity since 2014, while mizuna potherb mustard, arugula, and lettuce grow inside. Covering an area of 48 hectares, producing power to supply about 10,000 households.
Under the “feed-in tariff” system, power companies purchase electricity generated from renewable energy sources at a price determined by the government over a period of 20 years. The Farmdo Group expects to recoup its solar-related investment in seven to eight years. “The additional revenue from selling electricity helps stabilize agricultural operations, and lower the barriers to starting a farm,” a group official said. Installing solar panels to the portion of agricultural land must be converted to non-agricultural use and support equipment must be set up.
Installing solar panels to the portion of agricultural land must be converted to non-agricultural use and support equipment must be set up.
As stated by the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry of Japan the total number of permits for such conversions grew from 96 in fiscal 2013 to 1,992 in fiscal 2018. Over that span, the amount of agricultural land apportioned for solar power generation increased from 19 hectares to 560 hectares.
The Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association estimates that by 2050, about 30% of land used for solar power generation will be agriculture-related.
“It is important to balance agriculture and power generation,” said Takashi Nozu, an associate professor at Waseda University. “It is also necessary to carefully consider how to increase profitability, given the initial investment and maintenance costs involved.”