SunEdison touts $4.6bn plan for Japanese solar farms

US solar developer SunEdison has confirmed it is working on plans to deploy 1GW of new solar capacity in Japan at an estimated cost of Y350bn ($4.6bn).

Following reports on the plans in the Nikkei newspaper, the company confirmed to news agencies it is seeking investors to support the proposed wave of new solar farms, adding that the rollout will take about five years to complete.

The company also confirmed that it is already in talks with a number of prefectures about prospective solar farm sites.

The proposed projects look set to take advantage of the Japanese government’s new renewable energy subsidy mechanism, which was approved in the wake of the Fukushima crisis and will come into effect from this July.

The feed-in tariff style scheme will require utilities to purchase all electricity generated by solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and small-scale hydropower plants at pre-set rates for up to 20 years. The government is yet to confirm the rates, but given its stated goal of significantly increasing renewable energy capacity, they are expected to be designed to attract investors.

Japan is already one of the world’s largest solar markets with about 4GW of installed capacity. However, the bulk of the market to date has been focused on small-scale on-site installations, rather than larger solar farms.

The move is the latest step in a global expansion drive from SunEdison. The company revealed plans for a series of European solar farms last summer and is also reported to be working on proposals for a 24MW facility in South Korea.

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