Next-Generation Japanese Farmers Cultivate Crops and Solar
Farmers in Japan can now produce solar electricity while cultivating crops on the same farmland. In April, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) approved installation of PV systems on crop-producing land. Previously, the practice also known as “Solar Sharing” was prohibited under the Agricultural Land Act. The concept was originally developed by Akira Nagashima in 2004. By knowing that too much sun will not help further growth of plants, Nagashima came up with the idea to combine PV systems and farming. He devised pergola-like structures equipped with solar panels and arranged them at certain intervals to allow enough sunlight to hit the ground for photosynthesis.
U.K. May Approve Rules to Block Subsidies for Inappropriate Solar Parks
Energy Minister Greg Barker announced that the U.K. may add new rules to block “inappropriate” solar parks from receiving subsidies if planning guidelines does not work. Inappropriate and unsustainable photovoltaic projects can include large greenfield sites that offend local communities or raise questions over their impact on landscapes, Barker adds. Ministers are trying to stem a backlash against renewable energy projects that some campaigners say ruin the landscape and that also benefit from guaranteed power rates, raising consumer bills.
SolarCity Acquires Zep Solar
SolarCity is buying Zep Solar including rights to its rackless mounting design in a $158 million stock deal. Zep Solar has made a name in the installation innovation field with interlocking frames and specialized components that simplify solar array installations. Its licensees include more than a dozen prominent PV module manufacturers and inverter makers. Owning Zep gives SolarCity access to future technology in the pipeline, particularly Zep’s development in non-penetrating commercial roof and carports. SolarCity will honor all existing Zep customer contracts to their end, and then will manage partnership requests on a case-by-case basis.
SSE Price Increase Reignites Political Feud Over U.K. energy Policy
SSE Plc’s announcement of raising U.K. household energy prices by an inflation-busting average of 8.2% has reignited a political conflict over the cost of living and the extent of government mediation in the market. The increase by SSE will affect 4.4 million electricity customers and 2.9 million gas clients. Conservative Energy Minister Michael Fallon urges consumers to consider switching to SSE’s competitors citing that the best answer is more competition, while the opposition Labour Party repeated its pledge to freeze prices if it wins power in the 2015 general election.