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Despite headwinds, solar energy making progress, advocates say

Japan's largest solar panel plant is in full swing in Kunitomi, Miyazaki Prefecture, daily churning out up to 16,000 30-sq.-cm solar panels that have a conversion efficiency rate of more than 12 percent.

That may not seem like much, but by industry standards it's competitive. Brooks Herring, an executive officer at Solar Frontier, the plant's operator, also points out that the production method at the ¥100 billion facility is environmentally friendly.

"No cadmium or lead is used in the production process, and the rare earth minerals we use, like indium, often come from recycled products," he said.

As the country debates which renewable energies should replace nuclear power and fossil fuels, companies such as Solar Frontier, a wholly owned subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., believe solar power will play a critical role despite its current high cost, questions about the amount of sunlight in Japan, and, crucially, political and bureaucratic resistance.

"Solar energy is expanding in Japan, and until now, both nuclear power and solar energy were promoted by politicians and policymakers as being free of carbon emissions. Now, the real issues are availability and cost," said Solar Frontier President Shigeaki Kameda.

The company's new Miyazaki plant is just one of several high-profile solar projects in the past few months.

In August, Tokyo Electric Power Co. opened a solar power plant in Kawasaki, which together Tepco's nearby solar plant on Ogishima Island generates more than 20,000 kw.

Author: Haining SunSurf New Energy Technology Co., Ltd
Main Product:solar heater solar energy


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