4.58 GW Of Solar PV Added In Japan

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In just the first 8 months of fiscal year 2013, 4.58 GW of solar photovoltaics were added in Japan, continuing the solar power surge taking place there. Government incentives have primarily been driving it — mainly a favorable feed-in tariff scheme. This scheme was implemented in 2009, which was just five years ago but seems much longer in terms of the amount of change that has taken place in Japan’s renewable energy expansion.

Image Credit: Sakaori

In a document titled ‘Design of the Japanese Feed-in-tariff scheme’ the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry explained: “It is estimated that the increase in the amount of electricity through the introduction will be 32 to 35 million kW by the introduction of the system. Furthermore, by promoting technological development and the use of heat from renewable energy as well as reviewing relevant regulations, METI aims to make the ratio of renewable energy in primary energy supply 10% by 2020.”

The Ministry collects data about solar installations and their costs to factor into the adjustments they make in the FIT scheme in order to continue expanding solar growth.

Some have said Japan’s interest in solar power was sparked entirely by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. In the late 1990s, an increase in solar installations began, making the country one of the world leaders in solar. In 2002, a very large solar structure called the Solar Ark was built with 5,000 solar panels in Gifu Prefecture. For its time, it was one of the largest solar structures in the world, and won awards for design.

Of course, the Fukushima incident crystallized the existing interest in renewables, and has accelerated the growth of new solar. Japan may turn out to be the no.1 solar nation in the world in 2013, a position that has been held for some time by Germany, a country that has been very aggressively developing renewable energy sources.

There has been some concern that Fukushima might still be leaking radiation. The anxiety associated with old nuclear power plants potentially failing appears to be causing more people to be open-minded about the expansion of renewables. Climate change seems to be less of a motivator because the effects have been more gradual.

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Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JakeRsol

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18 thoughts on “4.58 GW Of Solar PV Added In Japan

  • They’ll be able to fire up their air conditioners this summer despite the lack of the nukes. And solar arrays and wind turbines are a great way to use that contaminated land near Fukushima.

    • Yes, but look at the huge increase of LNG, oil and coal. Especially coal! Japan is causing over 15,000 deaths a year as a result of coal power plants that have been running due to the Fukushima shutdown… I’m not sure anybody can be happy about that.

      • 15,000 coal deaths due to closing reactors?

        Got data?

        • There are numerous studies on the effects of coal on human lungs, but read the paper written by the Chair of the Economics Department at Columbia University titled “Evaluating the Economic Response to Japan’s Earthquake”, page 8. I’m surprise anybody that cares about the environment doesn’t know how bad coal is, and by the way how much radiation comes out every day from coal power plant, compared to the 0 radiation coming from a working nuclear reactor.

          • What does he/she say and what data is presented?

            We know how bad coal is. Many of us have a reasonable handle on the dangers of nuclear industry.

            The world’s best solution is none of the above.

          • Well, none of the above means turn off your phones,cars and lights and pray for the world to do the same. Wind kills the least number of people per TWh, but wind with storage has never been done and it would destroy so much land that the carbon released from killing so many trees would largely offset any gains by reducing CO2, then comes nuclear which you don’t like as the second safest per TWh, then solar. Solar with storage is been tried in the US now and is double the cost of nuclear in the US now and the problem that you still have to build a coal plant to back it up the 50% of the time it doesn’t produce any energy. So, unfortunately there is no perfect solution. I can’t wait for the day roof solar can produce enough to store enough energy for the rest of the day. With solar coming down so fast, it is likely that in the next 20 to 35 years it will be possible to be off the grid and be cheaper than nuclear. I look forward to that day, but until then we have to prevent 600 PPM. Climate change is real.

          • “wind with storage has never been done”

            The world has been using pump-up hydro for ~100 years. Do you question whether wind could be used to pump water uphill?

            “(wind) would destroy so much land”

            Horsefeathers. Wind turbines take approximately one quarter acre for footings, transmission, access roads and ancillary buildings. As turbines grow larger the footprint remains roughly constant.

            “Solar with storage is been tried in the US now and is double the cost of nuclear in the US”

            More horsefeathers. Solar is now selling in the US SW for ~5 cents/kWh. Add back in the subsidy and take out the owner profits and it’s about 6c. Pump-up is about 5c. 6c+5c=11c. A recent report by Citigroup finds that the cost of electricity from the new Vogtle reactors will be 11c – If there are no further time/cost overruns. And they state that it is unlikely to expect future reactors to be as cheap since Vogtle is taking advantage of current very low financing rates.

            We really do need to cut our carbon emissions. Best to go with the fastest to install new generation – wind and solar. With wind and solar we start cutting CO2 outputs many years earlier than waiting for reactors to come on line. Plus we end up with cheaper electricity and spend our capital wisely.

          • BTW, you failed to answer –

            “What does he/she say and what data is presented?”

          • The Breakthrough Institute is a shill for the fossil fuel and nuclear industries.

            Their numbers have no meaning.

            Please don’t bring their crap to this site.

          • hydro has reached its limits in much of the world and destroys even more land than wind, that’s an insane combination, why not take hydrogen from natural gas then? Hydrogen is clean… same logic.

          • Pump-up hydro has in no way reached it’s limits.

            We have tens of thousands of dams and over 1,000 abandoned rock quarries that could be converted to pump-up in the US alone.

            Why not take hydrogen from natural gas? Do you really need someone to explain to you that using natural gas for H2 puts more carbon into the atmosphere?

          • After being warned you continue to use sockpuppets, Fly.


  • What about job creation, local taxes, and the effect it has on the economy?

  • Looks like journalism is catching up. I have posted numerous times in the last year to major news sites, and several times on Reuters and CNN, that the FIT did NOT begin after the earthquake on 3-11. FITs were actually being offered at least two years prior. You cannot find a site anywhere where a journalist actually did the footwork to figure out that the whole alternative energy program in Japan did not start with the quake, it started decades ago.

    Incidentally, I visited the solar ark the year it opened. It is amazing to think that the panels one can buy today in Japan are a tenth of the price with at least twice the output per unit of area.

    People forget, and I guess three years is an eon for most people, that the Kyoto Accords were something that Japan espoused and made an earnest effort at. Japan was a world leader in efforts to chop CO2 output. Their strategy, which highlights their tragedy, was to encourage people to use MORE electricity and less gas. Then they were going to use more and more nuclear and some solar to generate electricity.

    The quake changed that entirely. People who switched from gas to electricity for daily appliances have paid a heavy price, and coal and gas are being used to generate the electricity, so environmental efforts are in a shambles.

    Japan is still picking up the pieces. Nuclear plants will be turned back on to some degree. Solar will meet peak demand where it can. And Japan will try to make gas its replacement for coal. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The good news is that the high prices of fossil fuels and the lack of alternatives are PUSHING people to solar, even as the FIT stops PULLING them. The quake has not destroyed Japan, so it will only make it stronger.

  • Read the paper written by the Chair of the Economics Department at Columbia University titled “Evaluating the Economic Response to Japan’s Earthquake”, page 8. I’m surprise anybody that cares about the environment doesn’t know how bad coal is, and by the way how much radiation comes out every day from coal power plant, compared to the 0 radiation coming from a working nuclear reactor.

    • Very low tolerance for people using sock puppets here…

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