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Can Power Be Generated From an Airport?
-Mega-Solar Power Plants, Operated by ORIX-

Electricity: A Commodity that We Once Thought to be Safe and Unlimited in Supply.

We have grown accustomed to turning on our televisions, air conditioners and room lights whenever we want with the flip of a switch, without thinking twice about it. Our daily lives have become this comfortable and convenient simply because of electricity.

However, the unprecedented earthquake and tsunami disaster of March 11, 2011 has woke us up to the reality that our supply of electricity is not inexhaustible. The event has also reminded people across Japan of the importance of safety and security in their daily lives.

Faced with an event of such unimaginable proportions—one that transformed at once what had been taken for granted in people’s daily lives—ORIX started asking itself whether there was anything in its power that it could do for the betterment of society. Guided by this thinking, a new challenge within ORIX has begun.

Converting Sunlight Into Power

One of these challenges was solar power generation—the process of converting sunlight into power.

We are currently installing one of our largest mega-solar power plants at the former site of Makurazaki Airport in Kagoshima Prefecture. Installation is scheduled for completion in September 2014.

Runways with a spacious, level surface provide an ideal location for installing solar panels. That is why we set out to transform the former Makurazaki Airport site into a generator of electricity. In doing so, we also wanted to make a positive contribution to the area’s public finances. Moreover, we intend to make the project useful to the local community as an educational resource. To this end, we will use the airport terminal building as a space for touring the mega-solar plant, and install environmental education facilities, to illustrate how solar power works, and an astronomical observatory.

Power Cannot be generated Merely by Installing Solar Panels

To many, solar power generation may seem a straightforward task of simply securing a site and installing solar panels on it. In reality, successful commercialization of solar power projects requires specialized knowledge across a broad range of fields which include developing a business plan, raising capital, coordinating land rights, obtaining various permits and licenses, conducting design and installation, connecting facilities with transmission lines, and understanding relevant laws. Furthermore, servicing and maintenance are required after the solar power plant starts operation. To operate a solar power plant, one must first obtain the cooperation of a surprisingly large number of experts who are well versed in various fields. A project manager who can supervise all of these experts is also essential.

A New Business Developed Through Diverse Human Resources

This new business was made possible by the significant contributions of human resources specialized in many different fields.

ORIX initiated its solar power generation business with a team of only 5 people in 2011. At the time, ORIX had no employees well versed in solar power generation within the company. All of the team members made daily efforts to increase their knowledge in solar power generation from scratch.

The team was then joined by ORIX’s own in-house experts in various fields. These experts had developed their knowledge and skills as a result of ORIX’s business diversification from leasing to not only finance, but also to real estate, environment and energy and other areas. In addition, seasoned project managers with experience in multiple businesses were also added to the team. In three years since the start of this new business, ORIX became one of Japan’s top solar power generation players.*

*As of March 31, 2014, ORIX has engaged in developing solar power generation capacity equivalent to the annual power consumption of 130,000 ordinary households. Calculation based on consumption of 3,600 kWh a year per household. (Source: Electricity Statistics Information, The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan)

Bringing Together Group-wide Capabilities to Serve Society

Agatsuma Biomass Power Plant

Our energy business marked its beginning with an investment in a wind power generation project approximately 20 years ago. Today, the energy business has expanded to include energy conservation services, power generation and electricity retailing, and the operation of a wood chip-fired biomass power plant and a geothermal power plant.

Among these businesses, solar power generation has just gotten under way. In order to continue generating power in a steady and safe manner, we will need to build up our experience and expertise further.

Power : Essential to People’s Lives
By bringing together the Group’s collective capabilities, we intend to rise up to new challenges, and continue our role as a responsible corporate citizen that contributes to society through our businesses.

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