Clean Power japanese solar feed in tariff rate yen

Published on May 18th, 2013 | by Dr. Karl-Friedrich Lenz


12.2 GW Of New Solar Approved Until February In Japan

May 18th, 2013 by  

This article was originally published on Lenz Blog.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Trade just published figures for renewable energy under the new feed-in tariff law in force since last July. Thanks to this tweet by Hiro Matsubara for the link.

japanese solar feed in tariff rate yen

Japan solar home, sort of.
Image Credit: Shutterstock

To state the result in very short terms, wind is struggling even with the very high tariffs in place, and solar is headed for the “rocket start” former Prime Minister Noda called for last October.

The Japanese figures come in two flavors. One set is for installations that have started producing electricity, and the other one is for installations that have received approval from the Ministry. The latter one is the higher one, it includes capacity that will come online shortly, but is not yet commissioned.

Using those latter figures, solar recorded 12.2 GW until February. That’s not bad, considering that Japan had only about 5.3 GW of solar installed at the end of 2011. Adjusting for the larger population of Japan, this is comparable to the German records of the last couple of years. Not bad at all.

On the other hand, the rocket for wind energy is still firmly planted on the ground. The Ministry reports a measly anemic 0.6 GW of approved capacity. The problem with wind is, you need much more time from starting a project to getting it to the approval stage. Anyway, it will take some time for wind to get up to speed in Japan. The numbers are still very disappointing.

The new solar capacity is spread rather evenly all over the country. The interesting thing is that the biggest chunk is located in Hokkaido, the most northern island. It certainly does not have the best solar resources. But I assume it is easier to find the land for megasolar projects there. Hokkaido has about 1.13 GW, with 0.97 of that coming from projects with over 1 MW capacity.

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About the Author

is a professor of German and European Law at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, blogging since 2003 at Lenz Blog. A free PDF file of his global warming science fiction novel "Great News" is available here.

  • Ronald Brak

    Solar power in Hokkaido is not so bad. In the main city of Sapporo PV will operate at about 15.6% of capacity while in Tokyo the figure is 17.9%. In other words, all else equal, solar is about 13% more expensive in Sapporo than Tokyo.

  • James Wimberley

    Putting utility solar farms in Hokkaido (climate roughly like Scotland) is weird and is only feasible with a very high FIT. It shows how difficult the land issue is in Japan: basically it’s all either built-up, farmland, or mountains, with very strong opposition to damaging the forests. Geothermal has also faced great obstacles in access to land, and its installations are very discreet compared to solar or wind.

    Japan isn’t lucky either on the conditions for offshore wind. On the Pacific side, there is hardly any continental shelf to put it. The China Sea is shallower, but mired in high-stakes interstate disputes. Floating wind turbines aren’t deployment-ready yet.

    • Ross

      Being more than a little on the negative side there James.

      Hokkaido is in the same band of latitude as Rome and New York.

    • Ronald Brak

      I can see you’ve never paid a Japanese electricity bill. At Australian installation prices rooftop solar will be worth it without any feed-in tariff and at German prices it’s even more profitable to install. Or at least it is around Sapporo where most of the population is.

      • Altair IV

        Tell me about it. I just got an announcement last week that Kansai Electric is slapping us with a 9.75% (avg) rate hike, effective immediately. Under the tiered system most residential users are under the cost schedule is now: 334.22 yen (fixed) for the first 15kWh, 20.27/kWh for 16-120, 26.51/kWh from 121-300, and a whopping 30.23/kWh after that (almost a 5 yen increase!) This is on top of a few other fees. [Caveat: the whole thing is rather complex, and all in Japanese, so I’m almost certainly misunderstanding some things.]

        The rationale is of course that they need this because of the shutdown of the nuclear plant fleet and the cost of imported fuel. (Part of a trend I’ve noticed in using the recent disaster as an excuse to raise fees — my income taxes also went up 2% due to a special levy for disaster relief, effective for the next 25 years!)

        The only good thing about it that I can see is that it will probably help to convince more people to go solar. I’m seriously hoping now that the country manages to quickly move to relative self-sufficiency and bring these energy costs back down.

        As for the use of Hokkaido for solar, I’d agree that it’s probably mostly a land issue. There just aren’t that many areas where large arrays can be set up. Almost every square inch of this country is either developed or undevelopable, except in the north. But I really wish the government would do more to promote local set-ups. There’s an awful lot of good roof space going to waste here. I don’t know as much about wind power, but I imagine that their relative lack of experience with it, compared to solar, may also be a factor.

  • Justin Barkewich

    The world is in a “arms race” for renewable energy and its only getting ramped up….this is gonna be a good race.

    • Ross

      It would be fascinating to get a peak into the future to see where we’ll be in 2023. I’d be surprised if the inflection point in the world’s allocation of new resources away from fossil fuels isn’t firmly entrenched by then. As has been pointed out on Cleantechnica many times, official estimates of the rate of transition from the IEA are likely to be proven to be too conservative. Prospecting for new fossil fuels should be outlawed.

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