Over 40% of Local Governments Face Issues with Solar Power Facilities; Ministry Survey Covered Municipalities in 24 Prefectures

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Solar panels are seen across a field that was once grassland in Yamato, Kumamoto Prefecture, in December 2023.

More than 40% of local governments have experienced issues with solar power generating facilities in their areas, according to a recent survey by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

Since the feed-in tariff system for renewable energy was introduced in 2012, the installation of solar power sites has rapidly expanded, with about 2.66 million locations recorded by the end of March last year.

However, recurring problems have been reported at various facilities, such as soil runoff after installation, and of operators not providing sufficient explanation of the construction to local residents.

The ministry conducted a survey from June last year to explore countermeasures for these problems. The survey focused on all municipalities in the 24 prefectures that had the highest number of solar panel installations. Of the 861 municipalities that responded, 355 reported trouble caused by the installation of these facilities, making up 41.2% of the total. Problems remained unresolved in 143 municipalities, or 16.6% of them. Additionally, a total of 121 municipalities conducted on-site inspections during which instances such as mud water flowing into roads and rivers were confirmed, as well as construction work being carried out that differed from what was authorized.

The ministry has recommended that the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, which has the authority to direct operators, take necessary measures such as strengthening field inspections and issuing written guidance to operators who continue to violate laws and regulations.