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From Farms to Schools, Where Will Solar Panels Go Next?

Solar panels can generate power in a wide range of locations. As efforts to expand renewable energy ramp up, you might be surprised where you find them.



A farm in Chiba City’s Midori Ward, managed by Chiba Ecological Energy, a start-up affiliated with Chiba University. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)

Read the full story on Japan 2 Earth - From Farms to Schools, Where Will Solar Panels Go Next?

Solar power is rapidly expanding in response to global calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This source of renewable energy has changed the landscape in Japan. Vast fields covered with solar panels, once an uncommon sight, have now become a familiar one. 

Meanwhile, as a small country, Japan is reaching the limits of repurposing its golf courses and building on its mountainous terrain. Now, solar panels are now finding their way into unexpected locations like farms, city streets, and alongside railway tracks. Initiatives across the country are actively exploring innovative installation sites to further extend the reach of solar energy.

Local Production for Local Consumption

Vegetables thrive beneath neatly arranged solar panels. This is an attempt to achieve agrivoltaics, often called agrisolar, or the integration of solar power and agriculture. Panels are strategically placed to provide appropriate sunlight conditions for the crops, fostering their growth. Takeshi Magami, President of Chiba Ecological Energy, a venture launched out of Chiba University, explains: "We aim for local production for local consumption — for both energy and food."

solar panels
Chiba Ecological Energy's agrisolar project in Midori Ward, Chiba City. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)

Solar panels also now line the tracks of the Hokuso Line in Inzai City, Chiba Prefecture. About ten kilometers of panels adorn the former planned route of the Narita Shinkansen, a project to connect Narita Airport and Tokyo Station that never came to fruition. 

Solar panels stretching beside a running Skyliner create the illusion of three trains running side by side. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)

Continue reading the full story on Japan 2 Earth to see more photos of solar panels installed in surprising locations.

And find more great articles on the environment and the challenges of achieving the SDGs on our affiliated website Japan 2 Earth (J2E), sparking a transition to a sustainable future.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Ryosuke Kawaguchi


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