Toshiba To Build Japan’s Biggest PV Plant

Americans tend to think of Toshiba as a consumer electronics manufacturer, but the Japanese company also builds an wide range of industrial products, including motors, inverters and batteries, as well as photovoltaic (PV) modules for residential applications. Lately, Toshiba has also been getting into the the business of large-scale renewable energy, purchasing companies specializing in smart grid development and wind power. And now the company says it will help build the largest PV power plant in Japan.

Toshiba is participating in a consortium of seven companies, led by Mitsui Chemicals, to study the feasibility of building a combined solar and wind power plant in Tahara, Aichi prefecture. The project plan calls for a 50-megawatt (MW) PV plant and a 6-MW wind power plant, situated on  the coast in central Honshu. The 820,000-square-meter site is owned by Mitsui Chemicals, and the project is expected to cost approximately 18 billion yen (about $230 million).

toshiba solar power plant japan

image via Toshiba

To date, Toshiba has won contracts for eight major solar projects in Japan. At Tahara, Toshiba would be responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction of the solar power portion of the plant. The plant will use Toshiba’s 500-kilowatt power conditioner, which the company says achieves the highest conversion efficiency in the industry. Toshiba will also be responsible for making specific design considerations to protect the site from natural disasters.

Construction on the Tahara project is expected to begin in June 2012, and finish in September 2012. Other members of the consortium include investment firm Mitsui & Co., chemical companies Toagosei and Toray Industries, and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).