Japan's Softbank to build experimental solar plant this year

AKITA, Japan Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:57am EDT

AKITA, Japan (Reuters) - Softbank, Japan's third largest mobile carrier, said on Wednesday it plans to build an experimental solar power plant on the nation's northern island of Hokkaido this year, kicking off a renewable energy project prompted by the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Softbank last month pledged to commit hundreds of millions of dollars in investment to boost a lagging renewable energy sector.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting of prefectural governors, Softbank President Masayoshi Son said an enthusiastic response from local governments meant the project would likely result in more than the initially planned 10 solar plants.

Son also said he wanted to push ahead with wind and geothermal power generation as well as solar and set up a renewable energy subsidiary within a few months.

Son added he had not decided which manufacturer's panels would be used in the Hokkaido plant.

He first announced the project after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered a crisis at a nuclear plant in Fukushima, north of Tokyo, setting off a backlash against nuclear power. Son has insisted the new venture will not lessen Softbank's focus on telecommunications.

(Reporting by Isabel Reynolds; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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