Japan has been focusing on finding spaces well-suited for solar power that might otherwise go unused. Recently, solar power company Kyocera announced that it was building huge floating solar power plants that covered inland bodies of water like reservoirs, projects that both provided clean energy and were beneficial to the reservoirs themselves.
Now, the company has turned their attention to the several abandoned golf courses in the country, with plans to build large solar farms on the land. These golf courses feature large amounts of unused open land, few shade trees and high sun exposure -- all of the things you need for a productive solar farm.
The company has just started construction on a 23-MW solar power plant on an abandoned course in Kyoto Prefecture. It will generate an estimated 26,312 MWh per year -- enough to power 8,100 local homes. The company calculated that number based on the average household electricity use of 3,254.4 kWh per year.
When finished, it will be the largest solar power installation in Kyoto Prefecture.
Kyocera is also developing a larger installation on an abandoned course in Kagoshima Prefecture. The 92-MW solar power plant will cover land that was designated and cleared for a course, but has been unused for 30 years.
The abundance of abandoned golf courses goes back to the real estate boom in the country during the early 90s where many courses were built, but proved economically unsustainable.
Of course, a similar story has played out here in the U.S. where boom years saw the building of golf courses and resorts, but in recent years, fewer and fewer people are taking up the game. There's is also the huge environmental impact of golf courses. It's estimated that the average golf course uses more than 300,000 gallons of water a day, not to mention the pesticides and chemical fertilizers that keep the grass green and weed free.
Many states including Florida, Utah, Kansas and Minnesota are looking into ideas for repurposing abandoned courses for other uses. Japan may soon prove to have the best idea. Put solar on it.