• Kyodo

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The municipal government of Makurazaki, Kagoshima Prefecture, said Tuesday it will build a huge solar power plant after demolishing a local airport in March.

The 12.9-hectare plant is planned to begin generating power in March 2014 with 53,000 solar cell panels. It will be run by a company that will be formed by Orix Corp. and Kyudenko Corp., city officials said.

Annual energy production will total 9.8 million kwh, equivalent to the consumption of 2,740 households, and the energy will be sold to Kyushu Electric Power Co., it said. The joint firm will pay ¥85 million a year to the city government for the lease of the land.

Makurazaki Airport opened in 1991 as Japan’s first commuter airport, but after passenger and cargo flights were suspended in 2003, it has been used primarily as a base for rescue helicopters.

“Although the airport has put strains on local finances, the mega solar plant construction will bring about new development to spur the local economy,” Mayor Tadashi Kamisono told a news conference.

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