University of Tokyo Tests “Solar Sharing” on Sado Island with Solar Frontier’s CIS Solar Panels
Solar Frontier announced recently it has provided its CIS solar panels for a “solar sharing” experiment on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture, Japan.“Solar sharing” in Japan refers to the practice of using the same plot of land to simultaneously grow crops and generate solar power. In such cases, solar panels are installed high above the crops and spaced further apart than usual, enabling sufficient sunlight to pass through and farmers to work below. This business model has been gradually spreading across Japan, helping farmers earn additional income by selling electricity.
Advancing this experiment is the University of Tokyo’s IR3S (Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science). It aims to evaluate the potential economic impact of solar sharing on Sado Island, where the population is both declining and ageing. It is doing so as part of a broader project, which looks at using renewable energy and maximizing natural resources to achieve a low-carbon society and help revitalize communities.Solar Frontier has provided 10 kilowatts of its lightweight Solacis neo CIS solar panels for this experiment. In real-world conditions, CIS solar panels yield more electricity than crystalline silicon panels, including areas that receive lower levels of sunlight such as Sado Island. Today, this is being demonstrated by installations such as the Niigata Yukiguni Megasolar Power Plant, connected in 2010 in Niigata Prefecture, as well as smaller projects such as Gakko Gura (“school cellar”), a Japanese sake brewery that re-uses the building of a former elementary school on Sado Island.
Solar Frontier’s solar panels have been installed facing south at a low inclination angle of 13.5 degrees, and are expected to generate approximately 11,000kWh per year. The solar panels have also been installed 2 meters high, enabling the farmer to tend to his crop. In this particular case, it has started with a round of broccoli which will be followed by a range of seasonal vegetables as the year progresses. As a result, the test will provide data on light-shielding rates and crop yield for the Washizaki district, an area with relatively difficult farming conditions.The installation and crops are being managed by the “Association for Developing Sado Starting from Washizaki”. Mr. Taro Honma, president of the association, is the producer of Umi no Kome (Rice of the Sea), a brand of rice that won the Sushi Rice Special Award at the Sushi Rice Contest International Tournament in 2015. He is also a practitioner of a completely organic farming method that helps protect the Japanese crested ibis, a rare species of bird in the region.Solar Frontier will continue to focus on collaborating with industry, academia and government, utilizing its CIS thin-film modules to promote distributed energy generation initiatives rooted in local regions.