Solar Energy

Published on October 14th, 2013 | by Jake Richardson


1.8 GW Of New Solar For Japan In Q2

October 14th, 2013 by  

Japan keeps strongly increasing solar capacity and racked up another 1.8 GW of projects completed in the second quarter of this year. Most of this (1.4 GW) was commercial installations. Residential PV solar for the same period was just 410 MW. For Q2 this ratio was a reversal of the prior period, which favored residential solar installations over commercial.

Image Credit: Rdsmith4

If you guessed that it was the national feed-in-tariff scheme that fueled the continued solar surge, you were correct. The FIT did not arise on its own, however. It was the disaster at Fukushima that sparked it mostly. Since implementing the FIT program in 2012, about 3.67 GW of PV solar projects have been completed. Seven gigawatts could be installed by the end of this year.

If Japan intends to have no nuclear power at some point, renewable energy development will need continued support. One of the barriers to expediting an estimated 17.8 GW of new solar projects that have been approved but not commissioned might be grid connectivity. An investigation is underway and results should be reported soon.

As an impetus for the goal of a zero nuclear power nation, Fukushima is a constant motivation. News accounts of continued problems are harrowing and the upcoming handling of spent fuel rods could be even worse.

More press about any further issues or leaks would seem to only further cement public opinion against nuclear and for alternative energy sources. Paradoxically, the shutting down of nuclear power plants there has increased the consumption of fossil fuels such as oil and coal in order to fill the energy void. This extra use, of course, has increased CO2 emissions. So Japan is currently stuck with a potentially volatile nuclear situation at Fukushima and increased reliance on fossil fuels. At the same time, there has been a relatively large surge in solar installations, but these still represent only a small portion of their total energy production.

Hopefully, support for solar and wind will continue there for the foreseeable future as an important trend, and not just a reaction to Fukushima. Japanese culture has had an appreciation for the beauty of nature for centuries. Technology and engineering have also been of primary interest there, so greening their energy systems for the long-term seems like a logical strategy.

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About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Japan’s coal use has fallen since Fukushima. Part of the general world wide move away from coal. LPG use is up by about a quarter. Reports of fossil fuel use soaring may have come from people who saw that fuel oil use doubled without realizing or not caring that Japan never used that much fuel oil in the first place. Some confusion may also have resulted from Japan stockpiling fuel in order to replace stores that were run down in the wake of the disaster and to cushion their economy from any disruption in supply. I don’t have recent figures but CO2 emissions from Japan’s electricity sector should have increased by less than 5% as a result of the nuclear shutdown.

    • Ronald Brakels

      I did not take into account the lower efficiency of many peak plants that may be operating at higher rates than before, but CO2 emissions may still have risen by less than 5%. This is something I may look into further later.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Please do. Some real world numbers would be interesting.

        • Ronald Brakels

          I’m just looking into it now. It’s complicated by the fact that Japan was doing an impressive job of cutting emissions just before Fukushima making the sudden increase look more jarring. But Japan’s CO2 emissions at the moment should still be below what they were in 2004 or perhaps 2007. Unfortunately I’ll have to come back to this as I am running out of time just at the moment. (The LED embedded in my palm is flashing red. I hate it when that happens.)

  • Bob_Wallace

    Japan has 25.5 GW of pump-up hydro storage that they built for use with nuclear. Closing down their reactors frees up all that storage for use with solar and wind.

    They are also moving ahead with their offshore wind farms.

    Fossil fuel use up for a while, but seems like they’re moving quickly to renewables.

    • StefanoR99

      How many GW of Solar do they need to replace the downed nuclear power stations?

      • Bob_Wallace

        A bunch. It will take solar, wind and geothermal along with increased efficiency. Not an overnight job.

    • JamesWimberley

      ¨¨Moving ahead with their offshore wind farms¨ is slowed down by the lack of much of a continental shelf on the Pacific side, and unsettled jurisdictional disputes combined with low population on the western side. Japanese firms are developing floating turbines, but it´s a stretch, and large-scale rollout must be years away.

    • MorinMoss

      I was almost certain that 25.5 GW was a typo until I verified it and found Japan has 25% of global pumped storage, a few points ahead of the USA.
      That’s quite remarkable.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Yeah, I was surprised the first time I stumbled over that number and checked it on a couple other sites.

        Japan’s also been installing large battery banks on their grid, so I think they’re in good shape for getting a lot of renewables on their grids quickly. Plus the people of Japan seem to have a much better attitude about working together to get stuff done. People seemed to accept working with less AC and working in short sleeves much better than a lot of people in other countries would do.

  • Shiggity

    Which producers are getting what %’s of that business?

    • JamesWimberley

      You can look up the numbers as easily as I can. There´s a lot of ¨buy Japanese¨ sentiment, so Sharp and Panasonic must be doing well. Also, with a climate like Germany´s, the Japanese like high efficiency mono panels, so Sunpower is also benefiting.

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