Former Tepco executive Eiju Hangai, who quit the company a few months before the 2011 devastating tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, has built a solar agricultural park near the power plant. The new Fukushima Recovery Solar-Agri Park, which is located about 25 kilometers from Fukushima, contains more than 2,000 solar panels and two air-inflated greenhouse domes. In addition to providing energy for local farmers to produce crops and vegetables, solar panels will also power 170 local households. The project aims to speed up the recovery process of disaster-affected communities in the area and help Fukushima in its effort to become completely self-sufficient by 2040.

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The project occupies a 2.4-hectare site in Minamisoma City. The two solar-powered domes will facilitate hydroponic grow beds that will be used to produce vegetables. Temperature and humidity levels inside the greenhouses are kept at an optimal level via a computer system. And the unique wheel-shaped layouts of the domes will support an automated system that makes the Minamisoma greenhouse more efficient than the conventional ones. The rotating pockets with crops enable farmers to work from the center of each wheel when sowing and harvesting, which saves time and doubles productivity, claims Hangai.

Excess energy from the solar panels will provide enough electricity to power 170 households as a means to prevent the Tohoku Electric Power Company from building a new power plant in the region. “This means both components of the project are economically viable,” said Hangai. “It can serve as a model for industrial recovery in the disaster-stricken area,” he added.

Via New Scientist