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Opening Event of the Shonai Renewable Energy Power

Contributing to Community Development: Five Parties, Consisting of Municipalities, Producers and the Seikatsu Club, Proclaim the Establishment of a New Fund

Report on the Opening Event of the Shonai Renewable Energy Power Generation and Shonai FEC Self-sufficient Community

On Thursday May 30, Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union (Head Office: Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo; below, “Seikatsu Club”) held a forum on the theme of “The Shonai FEC Self-sufficient Community Initiative”* and a study visit to the solar power generating plant operated by Shonai Renewable Energy Power Generation Co., Ltd. in the Shonai region of Yamagata Prefecture.
Seikatsu Club’s links with the Shonai region go back 50 years. Built on the foundation of the relationship between food producers and consumers, these links have expanded to the municipalities in the region and have reached a stage where the parties involved are now striving toward sustainable community development that includes not only food but other sectors that are fundamental for people’s lives, such as energy and welfare. In 2019, the Shonai-Yusa Solar Power Plant began operation as a base for energy self-sufficiency in the region. This is what led to the study visit and forum held at the end of May.

On the day, under cloudless skies, the solar panels covering roughly 31 hectares of land displayed a beautiful scene as they took in the sun’s rays, sparkling in the sunlight like the surface of a lake constructed in the foothills of Mt. Chokai.

A scene at the study visit to the Shonai-Yusa Solar Power Plant

After the study visit, a forum was held on the theme of “The Shonai FEC Self-sufficient Community Initiative.” The keynote speech was given by Professor Shuichi Miura of the Department of Architectural/Environmental Design, School of Design, Tohoku University of Art and Design. This was followed by a panel discussion with panelists from related organizations such as Shonai Midori Agricultural Co-operative and Sakata City Regional Construction Department. The panel discussed the realization of the cycle of Food (F), Energy (E) and Care (C: welfare and mutual aid) and the social implications of this movement.

Furthermore, a joint proclamation on the establishment of a “Shonai-Yusa Solar Power Fund” was issued and a ceremony to sign the agreement held with the participation of Mayor Itaru Maruyama of Sakata City, Mayor Hiroki Tokita of Yusa Town along with leaders of the power generation, producer and consumer organizations. The fund is being established with the goal of returning the profits gained from the solar power business to the Shonai region for use as support for new businesses, thus creating a circular economic system. The signing of this agreement signifies the taking of a new step forward toward sustainable community development in the Shonai region.

* The Shonai FEC Self-sufficient Network Initiative
An initiative aimed at local community stimulation, the creation of employment and the construction of a sustainable society through endeavoring, as far as possible, to attain self-sufficiency in Food (F), Energy (E) and Care (C: welfare and mutual aid) in the Shonai region
Full Text of the Joint Proclamation for the Establishment of the Shonai-Yuasa Solar Power Fund (tentative name)

The five parties, Sakata City, Yamagata Prefecture (hereafter “Sakata City); Yuasa Town (hereafter “Yuasa Town”); Shonai Shinseikai Consumers’ Co-operative (hereafter “Shounai Shinseikai Co-op”); Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union (hereafter “Seikatsu Club”) and Shonai Renewable Energy Power Generation Co., Ltd. join in solidarity to move toward a sustainable future.

Japanese society currently stands at a critical junction. One road leads to a centralized society through economic globalization, which will likely result in a society based on exclusion that will exacerbate disparity, poverty and environmental destruction. In contrast, the other road leads to the birth of an autonomous and sustainable society which is decentralized and networked, focusing on coexistence with nature and the harnessing of local resources.

Aiming for an autonomous local society in which relationships between people are the foundation for the Food (F), Energy (E), Care (C: welfare and mutual aid) that we need for our daily lives, we wish to construct a “Shonai FEC Self-sufficient Community.”

The Shonai Region of Yamagata Prefecture, rich in nature, and the Seikatsu Club Group first met in 1968 and to this day have deepened their partnership on the basis of a large number of products such as rice, pork, agricultural produce and processed goods. During this long partnership, through the production and consumption of food, we have worked together on activities aimed at the resolution of issues in a wide range of sectors, such as environmental conservation in the Shonai region and energy. One of the fruits of these efforts has been the recent construction of the Shonai-Yuasa Solar Power Plant by the Seikatsu Club Group and the producers of Shonai. The power plant began operation in February 2019 with the goal of supplying the electrical power generated from natural energy, a local resource of Shonai, to the Shonai region while putting the profits to work in the development of a local sustainable society.

On the basic principle of coexistence, solidarity, participation, and cooperation between humans and nature, we hereby proclaim that we will strive in solidarity toward a future sustainable Shonai region where we will continue to live abundant and joyful lives.
Overview of the Shonai-Yuasa Solar Power Plant
The power plant consists of 67,000 solar panels installed on 31 hectares of land, generating around 18,000 MWh of power annually. Converted to the electricity consumption of the average household, this is sufficient to provide electricity to roughly 5,700 households. The solar power plant also makes it possible to reduce CO2 emissions by 9,200 tons/year.

Name of power plant: Shonai-Yuasa Solar Power Plant
Location: Yuasa Town, Akumi Gun, Yamagata Prefecture
Solar panels: Power capacity: Roughly 18 MW
Power output: Around 18,000 MWh per year
Power purchasers: Seikatsu Club Energy Co., Ltd., Tohoku Electric Power Company
Published on May 31, 2019

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