MINAMISOMA, Japan, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Many Japanese municipalities are turning their backs on nuclear power and Japan could soon become one of the world's biggest solar power nations, experts say.
Minamisoma City in Fukushima prefecture -- site of the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster -- has signed an agreement with Toshiba to build the country's biggest solar park, NewScientist.com reported Thursday.
Minamisoma has also joined with neighboring Namie in calling for the cancellation of plans to build a nearby nuclear power plant, even though Minamisoma has received $6.4 million over the past 25 years for initially agreeing to allow the facility.
An increasing number of Japanese cities have started solar projects in recent months, and there are plans for large-scale solar parks in Hokkaido and Kyushu, energy officials said.
"New solar projects are being generated day by day," Toshiba's Yuji Shimada said.
To encourage alternative energies, Japan has introduced a tariff that will see utilities pay solar energy firms around $0.5 per kilowatt-hour, triple the standard industrial electricity price.
An overall increase in electricity prices will cover the extra money, officials said.
Some analysts said Japan could overtake Italy and become the second-biggest market for solar power after Germany.