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.
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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