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Softbank to Build Demonstration Solar Plants in Northern Japan

Softbank Corp., Japan’s fastest-growing mobile-phone operator by customers, will build three demonstration solar power plants in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.

Construction of a 3,000-square meter (0.3 hectare) plant with a capacity of 100 kilowatts in Obihiro city began on Nov. 4, Softbank spokesman Naoki Nakayama said by phone yesterday.

The company will use solar panels made by domestic and foreign producers including Kyocera Corp. and Canadian Solar Inc., Nakayama said. Softbank plans to start work on two more plants this month which will together have 50 kilowatts of capacity in Tomakomai city, Hokkaido, he said.

Japan on Aug. 26 approved a bill that guarantees above-market rates for wind, solar and geothermal energy. The March 11 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima plant has turned public opinion against atomic energy, according to newspaper polls.

Softbank plans to collect data on power generation efficiency from the demonstration plants, Nakayama said.

Softbank Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son has become an advocate of renewable energy with plans to invest as much as 20 billion yen ($256 million) with partners in a company to develop clean-energy projects.

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