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Closed Makurazaki Airport to be Megasolar Plant with Panels on Runway

Closed Makurazaki Airport to be Megasolar Plant with Panels on Runway

Conceptual completion image of "megasolar" plant at he former site of Mekurazaki Airport

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A decision was made to install a large solar power generation facility, or "megasolar" plant, at the former site of Makurazaki Airport in Kagoshima Prefecture, which will permanently close at the end of March 2013.

Due to the city of Makurazaki's decision to shut down the airport and use the facility for other purposes, Tokyo-based Orix Corporation and Fukuoka Prefecture-based Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. will participate in a joint project to build the power plant that will use natural energy. According to the project plan, they will install 53,480 solar panels on the runway and other parts of the roughly 129,000-square-meter site to produce an output of 8,557 kilowatts. Their goal is to commence operations in March 2014 and sell enough electricity in the first fiscal year (ending March 31) to supply 9,860,000 kilowatts of power, or the amount consumed by around 2,740 typical households.

Other plans involve partial renovations to the present airport terminal building to set up a learning area that will teach visitors about how the solar plant works through exhibitions, environmental study and so forth. In addition to holding energy classes for elementary and junior high students as well as corporate seminars on solar power technology, the site will have an astronomical observation facility adjoining it and offer a place for local residents to interact.

According to Orix and Kyushu Electric, this is the first megasolar project in Japan to utilize the site of a former airport. They say they will make proactive efforts to develop joint energy projects in the Kyushu region, including renewable energy.

Makurazaki, Japan's first commuter airport, opened in January 1991. In addition to the long lack of regularly scheduled flights and infrequent use as a commuter airport, the city's decision to close the facility was also based on considerations of the cumulative deficit incurred by its administration and its future costs. Makurazaki is the fourth airport/airfield in Japan to temporarily or permanently close in Japan after Rebun Airport, Teshikaga Airport and Hiroshima Nishi Airport.

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