Underscoring the major growth in Japan’s renewable energy sector, Vision Ridge Partners and GSSG Solar recently announced the financing of a major 46.8 megawatt (MW) solar energy project in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture. The announcement comes as Japan continues a remarkable transition toward domestic renewable energy production, driven in part by strong cooperation with global partners. The project is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 3,800 Japanese households annually when it is completed and grid-connected by 2017.
“Today’s announcement with GSSG Solar highlights the importance of global solutions when tackling global problems like climate change and energy security,” said Reuben Munger, Managing Partner of Vision Ridge. “GSSG’s work in Japan shows that clean energy projects are smart, competitive investments that increase energy security while also turning a profit. We are continuing to see investments in solar pay off around the world.”
Five years after the Fukushima disaster, most of Japan’s nuclear power fleet, which once produced roughly 30% of Japanese electricity, remains offline. The Japanese Ministry of Energy Trade and Industry launched a highly competitive solar program in 2012, attracting substantial investment and unprecedented international cooperation within Japan’s renewable energy sector. This project demonstrates the importance of that effort.
Due to the limited available space for mega-solar projects in Japan, local developers have turned to unique solutions to access the large land areas needed to fulfill the country’s ambitious solar plans. Working with the existing local landowners and Chubu EPCO, a Japanese utility, the Suwa project will repurpose a former golf course facility into a massive solar generating facility with more than 143,000 SunPower modules, while incurring minimal impact to the existing forest cover.
“The Suwa project would not be possible without the extensive dedication and collaboration of our many partners in the U.S. and Japan,” said Tomakin Archambault, CEO and Managing Director of GSSG Solar. “As we evaluate opportunities to apply our solar-specific investment strategies worldwide, GSSG is eager to continue supporting the global transition to clean energy generation with the dedicated support of our investment partners, led by Vision Ridge Partners. We are optimistic that the Japanese solar program serves as a blueprint for competitive clean energy programs globally.”
In addition to the sponsor capital provided by GSSG Solar Partners and Vision Ridge Partners, Shinsei Bank, Ltd, a leading Japanese project finance bank, will play the role of lead lender for the Suwa project. The project will be the largest solar development Shinsei Bank has financed to date. Including the Suwa project, GSSG Solar currently has 170 MW of solar power under development, including three other solar projects located in Fukushima, Japan.