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I love raw milk. I cannot find any here in Tokyo, but it enriches my life anyway, as I stumble across other great things in my endless search for it. This latest topic – “Solar Sharing” – was stumbled upon while I was searching for raw goats milk. The search led me to two wonderful finds:

  1. A wonderful farm (which I stole the photo from for this post 😉
  2. Solar Sharing (The Japanese definition, not the Western definition)

That farm is actually two entities in one: Power Plant Oo and Chickens’ Playground.

And it is a perfect example of Solar Sharing, as defined and practiced in Japan. And here is a great article from 2013 that it explains it well.

In short, Solar Sharing is dual purposing land – by having raised solar panels that let enough sun through to the ground underneath, so that crops can still be grown on the same land. A fantastic idea that is used by Power Plant Oo and Chicken’s Playground. And is being used more and more by other initiatives in Japan.

Personally, I love this idea, and it is based on sound science, as crops cannot absorb all the sunshine that an open sky provides:

“The concept was originally developed by Akira Nagashima in 2004, who was a retired agricultural machinery engineer who later studied biology and learned the “light saturation point.” The rate of photosynthesis increases as the irradiance level is increased; however at one point, any further increase in the amount of light that strikes the plant does not cause any increase to the rate of photosynthesis.”

The Japanese government originally blocked such ideas, in order to preserve farmland and prevent it from being displaced by energy companies. However, Japan now has guidelines and checks that allow Solar Sharing, as defined by its originator, Akira Nagashima; ensuring that it is done without any negative impact on the farming capacity of the land.

Solar Sharing is a win-win solution, and there are already farms that generate ten times as much income from the solar energy as they do from their crops. So, depending on your location, energy can be another product of your farm.

I could say more, but it is is already said well in the links above.

If you do check the links, you will find some wonderful blog posts there, concerning free range eggs, goats milk, bartering, and of course, Solar Sharing. We need more initiatives and people like those at  Power Plant Oo and Chickens’ Playground.