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Japan is turning abandoned golf courses into solar farms to solve its energy problems

One upcoming solar power plant will provide energy to 8,100 households

Doug Bolton
Thursday 09 July 2015 20:25 BST
An artist's impression of a planned massive solar farm in Japan's Kagoshima prefecture
An artist's impression of a planned massive solar farm in Japan's Kagoshima prefecture (Kyocera)

In an effort to boost renewable energy production and diversify its energy sources in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Japan is covering its many abandoned old courses in solar panels.

During Japan's boom years, golf courses spread like a rash across the country, but when the bubble burst, many were unable to keep up with the huge costs associated with running a golf course on one of the world's most densely-populated islands.

As a result, many lie abandoned, but renewable energy companies are seeing their potential as sources of power.

Multinational company Kyocera last week announced that they have started construction on a 23-megawatt 'solar farm', on a former golf course in Kyoto prefecture.

Golf is a popular sport in Japan, but a surplus of courses means that many lie abandoned (Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

It's due to start operating in September 2017, and will generate an estimated 26,312 megawatt hours every year - that's enough electricity to power around 8,100 typical households in the area.

Kyocera and other companies are also developing an even bigger solar power plant, at another abandoned golf course in Kagoshima prefecture. This one's set to open in 2018, and will produce almost four times as much power as its predecessor.

There's hundreds of similar sites across Japan, owing to a severe over-development of golf courses in the past.

Many are being converted into housing developments and parks, but their size and lack of shade make them perfect for solar farms.

The Japanese model is being copied elsewhere, too - following years of declining interest in the sport, some American golf courses are seeing the potential in selling to energy companies, who will be able to put their abandoned courses to good use, generating clean electricity for local communities.

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