Using solar energy to assist in agriculture is nothing new. It makes perfect sense, too, and the end result is one big, green, earth-friendly circle of life. Japan is jumping on the bandwagon now with a project that’s combing solar power and mushroom farming. It’s a big move for Japan on the renewable energy front, as they’ve long depended on nuclear power for their energy sources.
After the Fukushima disaster, they’re looking at greener solutions.
But that’s easier said than done.
The big challenge for finding green and renewable energy sources in Japan is the shortage of available land. It takes land to build solar and wind power fields, but it also takes land for agriculture, something that Japan depends on.
Sustainergy and Hitachi Capital have launched a new project that will solve the land issue by combing renewable energy and agriculture. The plan is to simply grow cloud-eared mushrooms beneath a field of solar panels. The decision makes sense, as the mushrooms require very little sunlight, making it a natural agriculture choice for the previously wasted space below the panels.
The selected farmland is in northeastern Japan, and it’s projected that the farms will be able to produce approximately 40 tons of mushrooms annually. This new project represents the largest example of a dual-use project to date in Japan.
The farms themselves will be able to use the solar energy for their own uses, potentially reducing operating costs while gaining additional income from the mushrooms.
Over the years, Japanese citizens have been moving out of the country and into the cities, leaving behind valuable farmland. Projects like the one being undertaken by Sustainergy and Hitachi Capital could help breathe new life into these abandoned farmlands. Plus, projects like this provide food and sustainable energy, as well as put money in the pockets of the landowners. This kind of project has great potential, too. Japan’s Ministry of Environment believes that there is enough farmland available for this initiative to power 20 million homes in Japan.
Hopefully, the project proves to be a financial and environmental success, but regardless of the outcome, it’s great to see Japan taking the initiative and exploring these dual-use options.