Japan: Abandoned golf courses being turned into solar farms

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Rendering of the solar power plant in Kagoshima prefecture. Pic courtesy-Kyocera
Rendering of the solar power plant in Kagoshima prefecture. Pic courtesy-Kyocera

In Japan, too many golf courses were built over the last few decades after demand shot up in the 1980s. Now the industry is in decline, with participation in the sport down 40% from the 1990s, and abandoned golf courses are starting to pop up.

Interestingly, Kyocera’s solution is to turn the abandoned green space into solar farms. Japan has been on the lookout for alternative energy ever since the 2011 Fukushima disaster made nuclear power an unattractive option in the country. Golf courses just happen to be perfectly suited for solar power-they’re large open spaces that often get lots of sunlight.

Kyocera’s first project, now under construction, is a 23 megawatt solar plant on a golf course in Kyoto prefecture. When it goes live in 2017, the plant will produce enough power for about 8,100 households. The company is also developing a 92 megawatt solar plant — generating enough energy for over 30,000 households — on an abandoned golf course in Kagoshima prefecture. No word on when that project will go live.

For Japan, using golf courses for solar power makes a lot of sense. But in other countries where golf is on the downswing, like in the U.S, suburban courses could have equally useful second lives as green spaces or infill development. In sprawling suburbia, these large swaths of land could house densely-packed residential developments, shops, community centers, libraries, schools, and all sorts of other buildings that could help rebuild a long-lost sense of community.

This article is based on materials provided by Business Insider.

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (www.sciglo.com); -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo (www.sciglo.com) and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.