Toshiba to build Japan's biggest solar plants in Fukushima

TOKYO, June 20 Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:19pm IST

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TOKYO, June 20 (Reuters) - Toshiba Corp said on Wednesday it will begin building solar plants with a total generating capacity of 100 megawatts on the country's disaster-hit northeastern coastline, making it the biggest solar project in Japan.

Electronics conglomerate Toshiba, which makes everything from lightbulbs to nuclear reactors, said it will spend around 30 billion yen ($379.6 million) t o build several large-scale solar plants in Minami Soma more than a year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.

The project overtakes an earlier plan by Kyocera Corp , heavy machinery maker IHI Corp and Mizuho Corporate Bank, which said it will launch a 70-megawatt plant in southern Japan.

Toshiba said it will start building the plants this year and aim to start operations in 2014.

Residents of Minami Soma, located just 25 km (16 miles) from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, were forced to flee their homes last year after a part of the city was deemed a no-gone zone by the government in the wake of the world's worst atomic disaster in 25 years.

The company's announcement comes after the Japanese government approved new incentives for renewable energy through an introduction of feed-in tariffs (FIT) this week, which is expected to unleash billions of dollars in clean-energy investment. ($1 = 79.0300 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Mari Saito and Risa Maeda; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)