Japanese electronics giant Kyocera has begun to construct what is believed to be the largest floating solar farm in the world. The new renewable energy plant is being built in the country's Chiba region and will be housed on a giant reservoir. Once it is online, it is expected to produce enough clean energy to power almost 5,000 homes. It will be completed early next year.
Japan has long struggled with its limited space, meaning that innovative options such as floating solar farms are necessary in order for it to benefit from the clean energy revolution. Already it has built a number of these solar floating developments as part of the government's bid to move towards renewables and away from nuclear after the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster of 2011. After Japan's nuclear plants were decommissioned, the country became increasingly reliant on imported fossil fuels, increasing its carbon emissions and costs and reducing its energy security of supply by making it more reliant on imports.
The Yamakura dam power plant will boast over 50,000 solar PV panels. Although it will be the largest floating structure, it will be relatively small when compared to land-based plants. When completed it will generate 13.7 MW of clean energy
Kyocera has previously built an earlier set of three floating solar power farms. They are all smaller than the planned new build and are successfully generating clean energy.
In the UK, United Utilities began a similar project in Greater Manchester last year, building Europe's biggest answer to the Yamakura power plant on a Manchester viaduct. The Renewable Energy Association have explained that the technology involved is relatively simple, but the costs of construction and maintenance can be higher when compared to land-based solar power plants.