Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Environment Minister, is raising concerns about a mega-solar plant being built by a private company in Saitama Prefecture.
He is demanding a review of the entire project, which is the first of its type in the country. This comes as his ministry evaluates the environmental impact of this project.
Yamaguchi’s Jan. 25 opinion demonstrates the dilemma facing the government in attempting to keep up with the global trend towards increasing renewable energy sources and balancing safety, conservation and security.
(Yamaguchis opinion). This is a message for prospective operators. It emphasizes the importance of considering the environment and co-existing in local communities, as the country moves into an era where mass energy production is possible with renewable sources.
The rising popularity of solar power has become a major social problem.
The project involves a 39.6-megawatt-scale solar farm. It will be built on an area of 86-hectares on the mountainside near Ogawa.
Yamaguchi stated that the plan to bring 360,000 cubic metres of sand, earth (which is only half the total expected) to the site to be used for fill dirt for the solar plants is a burden on our environment.
He also stated Ogawa Energy Godo Gaisha didn’t explain why it was necessary in its project proposal.
Yamaguchi asked the company to re-examine its project without bringing in dirt from outside sources to use any soil in the town’s jurisdiction for landfill.
According to an official from the ministry’s Office of Environmental Impact Assessment Review, the minister used the word “landfill” to warn against irresponsible use of earth or sand imported from the outside.
The construction of a huge landfill is believed to have exacerbated the July 2021 disaster, which occurred in Atami Prefecture, Shizuoka Prefecture. It was during this time that 27 people were either killed or missing due to a large-scale landslide.
Following the opinion of the environment ministers, the industry minister will issue a recommendation.
If Ogawa Energy’s safety measures are not sufficient, the minister can change the project plan.
Interviews were declined by the company, which is based in Yorii, Prefecture.
Local residents have been opposed to mega solar projects in recent years because of concerns about possible landslides or environmental destruction in their communities.
Despite the opposition from locals, the government is pushing to increase the proportion of renewable energy in the country’s supply mix.
It plans to double its share of renewable energy in fiscal 2030, from 18% in fiscal 2019.
According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, at least seven projects are being assessed for their environmental impact.
The Environment Ministry responded to people’s concerns in April 2020 by placing solar power projects with 30 megawatts or higher under an environmental impact analysis.
The ministry will offer a program to allow local governments to establish a promotion area for renewables within their jurisdictions starting in April. However, it must ensure that planned energy projects are compliant with environmental standards and provide a contribution to the local community.