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SoftBank plans vast new Japan solar farm, batteries included

On-site storage addresses problem of inconsistent output

An existing SoftBank Group solar farm in Hokkaido, Japan.

TOKYO -- SoftBank Group plans to build another large solar power plant in northern Japan, this time equipped with ample battery storage to better integrate the renewable energy output into the local grid.

SoftBank unit SB Energy will work with Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance on the project in Abira, Hokkaido. Total costs are seen at around 20 billion yen ($179 million). Power production is to begin in fiscal 2020.

The plant will generate up to about 65,000kW, or 65MW, of electricity, and is expected to be able to store around 17,500 kilowatt-hours. This is enough to power roughly 1,700 households for a day, making the storage system one of the largest in Japan for solar power.

Storing electricity generated on bright sunny days helps smooth out the fluctuations in output characteristic of harnessing the sun's energy. SoftBank intends to build more storage-equipped solar farms.

Power will be sold at set rates to local utilities under the government's feed-in tariff scheme.


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