Golf is a dying sport, and country club memberships are seen as an elitist relic of the past. But cultural changes are only one reason golf courses are falling out of favor: The chemical-laden, water-guzzling greens are especially irresponsible for areas hit by drought. Here’s an idea from Japan for those sunny green fairways: Use them to generate solar energy instead.
Japan energy giant Kyocera broke ground last week on a 23-megawatt solar farm that’s being installed on an abandoned golf course in the Kyoto Prefecture, making it the largest solar energy array in the region. But that’s not even the only golf-to-solar project in the country. A 92-megawatt solar farm is planned for land in Kagoshima Prefecture that was designated for a golf course, but was never built.
Repurposing golf courses for energy generation makes sense in Japan, where an economic crisis reigned in frivolous expenses and space for solar panels is at a premium (Kyocera is also behind the famous floating solar arrays just off Japan’s coast). But the idea it seems to be catching on in the US as well. According to Quartz, golf courses in New York and Minnesota are also replacing golf courses with solar farms.
These aren’t even the sunniest spots in the country—think of the potential in places that could really use all that water being dumped on golf courses, like Arizona and California. The overdevelopment of golf infrastructure has resulted in a glut of courses in these arid climates that also happen to have lots of sun. Maybe they could use James Cameron’s concept and plant a field of solar sunflowers.
Rendering of the Kanoya Osaki Solar Hills Solar Power Plant in Japan by Kyocera