Derelict putting greens will be put to greener uses in Japan, where an abandoned golf course near Kyoto is being converted to the area’s largest solar energy-generating facility.
Solar power production represents an ideal type of landscape reuse in this context for many reasons: expansive areas with little shade and high sun exposure are perfect for laying out panels for maximum effect and efficiency. Developed by Kyocera, “the plant will generate an estimated 26,312 megawatt hours (MWh) per year — enough electricity to power approximately 8,100 typical local households.”
Also under construction, a similar project in the Kagoshima Prefecture is being located on an area originally cleared for a golf course that was never finished and occupied. Critical to a country facing power issues in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear incident, these projects are also a sign of land use awareness and changing times. Just a few decades ago country club memberships sold for millions in Japan, but “overdevelopment of golf properties during the real-estate boom of the 1990’s and 2000’s has led to hundreds of idle courses today that are now under analysis for repurposing or redevelopment.”
Of course, closed golf courses are also an international problem well beyond the Japanese archipelago, giving this solution potentially global applications as well, particularly in the United States. Together, these projects should help inspire other countries to turn some of the most environmentally unsound landscapes toward more productive and sustainable uses.