FROM SHELL REFINERY TO SOLAR POWER PLANT IN JAPAN
From oil refinery to solar power plant / Showa Shell plans to use site of closed factory to generate clean electricity
Tatsuya Watanabe and Yomiuri Shimbun, January 11, 2011 (AP via Daily Yomiuri)
"Major oil company Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. is considering constructing a solar power plant at the site of an oil refinery the firm plans to close this autumn…[B]usinesses and local governments [are seeking] an effective way to use sites of shuttered factories, which have caused serious problems in places around the nation as a growing number of firms move plants overseas.
"Showa Shell decided in February 2010 to close the 227,000-square-meter Ogimachi refinery run by its affiliate Toa Oil Co. at its Keihin Refinery in Kawasaki. The firm judged the facility would face difficulty remaining profitable as demand for petroleum products declines due to the chronically low birthrate and the aging population, as well as the popularity of eco-friendly cars."
Artist's conception of the solar power plant on the Niigata refinery site (click to enlarge)
"The Kawasaki municipal government and other entities earlier approached chemical makers about using the refinery's equipment, but the negotiations made little progress as the chemical industry is also in the process of off-shoring factories…
"Eventually, they hit on the idea of Showa Shell keeping the site and remaking it into a solar power plant, which would not require a costly soil clean-up…Showa Shell opened a solar plant in August at the site of an old refinery in Niigata, and the company is considering a similar design for the plant at the Ogimachi facility."
click to enlarge
"A comprehensive renewable energy purchase system the government plans to introduce as early as fiscal 2012 is expected to stimulate business interest in building solar plants in vacant lots. The new purchase scheme is an expansion of the current system under which electric utility firms buy excess solar energy generated by households. The new system would allow households and corporations to sell all of the renewable energy they generate.
"In anticipation of the expanded system, companies in various industries have approached solar panel makers about entering the solar power business…The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, which wants to promote the purchase system, hopes Showa Shell's project will be an example of how to put vacant lots to use."