New Solar Energy Usage from Japan

The sunlight concentrated by 800 mirrors onto the receiver installed on the top of a tower is blinding like an artificial sun.  In fact, it is said that the temperature of the receiver reaches over 1,000 ℃.  The scene is as if the populace is kneeling in adoration before a Mayan king standing on top of a temple.

The site is Japan’s first Solar Techno Park that brings together the various photovoltaic power and solar thermal power generation technologies for promoting further technical development of power generation using solar energy.  JFE Engineering Corporation completed construction of the site in autumn of last year at its Yokohama Head Office in Kanagawa Prefecture.  The tower-type concentrating photovoltaic power generation system named HyperHelios, which is shown in the picture, uses the latest technology and is capable of twice the cell generation efficiency compared to silicon-type solar panels that use conventional technology.  Sawako Oyama in charge of public relations said, “We are aiming to commercialize in fiscal year 2013 this system that generates power using the light and heat of the sun concentrated onto a tower.”

Although the weather has some affect on performance, the test facilities can generate a maximum heat capacity of 200 to 210 kWh by photovoltaic and solar thermal power generation.  At a 25% power generating efficiency, 50 kWh of power can be generated which is sufficient for providing electricity to about 15 average households.  Due to the last year’s nuclear accident, these technologies are now attracting more attention than ever not only as a countermeasure against global warming but also as a natural energy source.

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