I just wrote about ORIX Corporation’s whopping 82 MW of solar power plants under development in Japan (thanks to Japan’s generous solar feed-in tariff). One notable project (of the 17) is this project on a former airport site.

This solar project (or mega-solar project, as ORIX calls it) is to be located on the Japanese island of Kyushu. In particular, this 8.5MW solar power plant will be located on the former site of the Makurazaki Airport (Makurazaki City, Kagoshima Prefecture). “This project is the first time in Japan that a former airport site has been utilized for a mega-solar power operation,” ORIX notes.

“Makurazaki Airport opened in January 1991 as Japan’s first commuter airport. In light of mounting annual budget deficits for the management and operation of the airport, as well as future fiscal policy and the financial burden faced by residents, Makurazaki City decided to shutter the airport at the end of fiscal 2012 and lease the site to a mega-solar operator.”

Along with the basics that any solar power plant would include, this project will also serve some educational purposes. “Several local social contribution measures are also slated. These will include using the terminal building as a space for touring the plant, as well as the installation of environmental education facilities to show how solar power works and an astronomical observatory.” Interesting development.

Also, I have to say, the aerial look of this solar project is pretty cool. ORIX Corporation and Kyudenko Corporation are joint launching the project. For more on the ORIX–Kyudenko partnership, check out the ORIX news release.

If you’re curious about the business plan for the project, here’s an overview (via ORIX):

And here’s an overview of the “social contributions” of the project:

1. Installation of areas for solar power plant tours and education: A section of the airport terminal building will be remodeled for the installation of a seminar space that will include exhibits on how solar power plants work and environmental education.
2. Environmental education programs: Lectures on energy will be held for elementary and junior high school students, as well as seminars on solar-related technologies for corporate visitors.
3. Provision of shuttles for plant tours: Shuttles will be provided for visitors to the plant and the astronomical observatory.
4. Use of airport property management company. Property management for part of the solar power plant will be entrusted to Nansatsu Airport Co., Ltd. (sector 3/airport property management company), which will remain in business following closure of the airport.
5. Installation of an astronomical observatory. An astronomical observatory will be built on the former airport grounds, offering a place for local residents to congregate.