A scene spreading across Kai City, Yamanashi Prefecture. Solar panels are laid on the steep slope of the mountain surface.It’s eerie, Because such big panels shining so brightly in the mountains.
The elderly man sighed as he looked up at the mountain behind his house. Hokuto City in Yamanashi Prefecture. It was early June when my cameraman and I visited this richly natural area, which is surrounded by Mount Yatsugatake and Mount Kaikomagatake, a representative of the Southern Alps. The city, which is said to have the longest hours of sunlight in Japan, is also known as one of the “sacred places” for solar power generation facilities.
This summer and winter, the supply and demand of electricity will be extremely severe.
On June 7, After the review meeting on electricity supply and demand held at the Prime Minister’s official residence, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno asked households and businesses to conserve electricity starting July 1. This is the first time in seven years that the government has requested power saving.
The government issued its first “Power Tightness Warning” on June 27, as the nation was already experiencing extremely hot days. In the Kanto region, where temperatures remain the highest ever recorded in June, the government continues to issue a broad call for power conservation.
According to the government’s explanation, the supply-demand balance for electricity from July onward is expected to become tight between 5 pm and 8 pm, while for the daytime, the supply-demand balance is easing due to the growing introduction of solar power generation.
According to data compiled by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy last December, Japan’s solar power generation capacity ranks third largest in the world after China and the United States. That is how widespread solar power generation is in Japan. Even today, large-scale solar power generation facilities, known as mega solar power plants, are being built all over Japan.
However, one cannot be complacent about the unchecked spread of solar power throughout the country.
There is no end to the problems associated with solar power generation in many parts of Japan, including accidents involving collapsed buildings caused by torrential rains, destruction of the landscape and environment, soil pollution, and illegal dumping of used solar panels. The problems do not stop there.
A manager involved in the solar power generation business in Tokyo said, “The solar power generation business is a world where shady dealers and brokers can easily get into the business, from site selection and securing land to buying and selling power generation equipment. There are cases where the operator of a power plant is later found to be a paper company and cannot be contacted when something goes wrong, or where the operator suddenly goes bankrupt and leaves the power plant unattended. Before long, the power plant may even be resold and become foreign capital. Because of the investment aspect of the solar business, there are many stories of scams that deceive people about the solar business.”