Japan is Turning Golf Courses into Solar Farms

One golf course is now powering 12,000 homes.

Jan 3, 2020

(leungchopan / Shutterstock.com)

Golf is an extremely popular game and getting out in the fresh air is healthy. Walking the links and leaving the golf cart behind makes it a great form of exercise too. In fact, almost 24 million people play golf worldwide.

Although golf courses are not usually thought of as centers of sustainability because of their heavy use of water and pesticides, one golf course in Japan recently received a major facelift and is now powering close to 30 megawatts (MW) of bright and clean solar energy

Abandoned housing and factories are rife across Japan.  The country even has abandoned entertainment centers like golf courses. That's because Japan experienced a golf  boom in the 1980s but now there is a 40 percent decline in the sport's popularity according to The Independent.

These large vacant pieces of land could be turned into shopping malls or other development but one company, Kyocera – a multinational electronics manufacturer – had an idea that was a hole-in-one.

Kyocera, decided to turn an abandoned golf course in Yonago City into a solar farm According to a company news release, the 1.2km plant officially launched in April of 2018, and has a capacity of 29.2 MW which can power approximately 12,000 homes.

This renewable energy project is one of many as Japan is looking for clean energy alternatives to nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster of 2011.

Kyocera has already constructed over 60 solar power plants in Japan, including the largest Japanese floating solar farm, which was also completed in the Spring of 2018 along with the Yonago City golf course plant.

Other golf courses around the world are also receiving green makeovers, such as the Laurel Lane Country Club in Rhode Island, which is entirely solar powered according to Golf Course Industry. Fourteen solar arrays move with the sun, increasing the efficiency by 30 to 40 percent.

Joe Videtta, co-owner of the club told Golf Course Industry  that the panels not only power everything on the golf course including sprinkler systems and clubhouse lighting, but they even overproduce energy, selling it back to the grid and receiving credit.

What’s even more surprising is that the entire installation from breaking ground took only 30 days and bridging the final connections to the grid took only 60 days. 

The move to solar energy enabled the country club to switch their golf carts from a diesel fleet to an electric one. They also noted that over the next 25 years Videtta’s solar installation is projected to save the club up to $1.3 million in energy costs.

Kyocera and Laurel Lane Country Club show us that any land and any business — even golf courses –  can be turned into a resource for renewable energy. When we think creatively and boldly, clean energy projects can get off the ground and even turn a profit. Who knows where they will spring up next.

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.