Over 7 GW Of New Solar PV Capacity Installed In Japan In Last Fiscal Year

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Over 7 gigawatts (GW) worth of new solar PV capacity was installed in Japan during the last fiscal year, according to numbers recently published by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

The numbers — compiled by the Agency for Natural Resouces and Energy (ANRE) — represent a 10-fold increase in installations over the previous year.

Japan flag via ShutterstockJapan flag via Shutterstock

The exact figures are for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, are 7.04 GW of new capacity, and for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, 1.66 GW — pretty significant growth. 🙂

Interestingly, the big increase is mostly the result of a big uptick in commercial-scale solar power plant development — whereas the previous year’s growth was mostly via the residential rooftop sector (960 MW). The residential sector did grow in fiscal year 2013, though — by 1.3 GW. It simply lost its market share thanks to the addition of 5.73 GW of new commercial-scale capacity.

Worth noting is the fact that a fair proportion of the commercial-scale capacity was installed just during the last month of the fiscal year — apparently in order to ensure a higher feed-in-tariff rate, as those were set to be lowered on April 1st.

In related news, an 82 MW solar power plant recently came online in the eastern country, representing a notable chunk of newly installed capacity.

The Oita Solar Project — as it’s known — has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Kyushu Electric Power Company. Annual output for the new power plant is expected to be somewhere around 87 million kWh. The modules used for the project were provided by Hanwha Q Cells.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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6 thoughts on “Over 7 GW Of New Solar PV Capacity Installed In Japan In Last Fiscal Year

  • Made me curious how this compares to the capacity lost by the shutdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant. According to wiki there was a total of 4,696 Mw of capacity from the six reactors there, so it seems that this more than makes up for it. And before anyone goes getting technical on the differences between capacity and output on nuclear as compared to solar I am aware of the differentiation, but still am taking this as positive news.

    • In addition, they replaced half of the nuclear capacity with conservation and efficiency.

      • Thank you for that information. I just posted on the article preceding this one on sources of energy in the U.S. I advocated including “negawatts” as a regular source of energy. The Japanese and Europeans are good at that. Conservation is often priced at 2.5cents kwh. vs 12-30cents kwh for all other “positive” kinds.

    • True. But Japan suspended all its nuclear reactors, not just the wrecked ones at Fukushima. The government want to restart most of the 50 undamaged ones, but is facing stiff opposition from regional; governments. It’s a colossal gap to fill.

    • Capacity factors in Japan could be around 15 – 17%, so you have to divide the total solar capacity by about 6 and some change to see how it would compare to a hypothetical energy source that has a 100% capacity factor. While nuclear power has a high CF, it is usually around 80 – 90% or so. In order to see how much nuclear capacity solar replaces, divide by 5 or 6.
      Running the numbers, Japan replaced about 1/3 of the total electricity production of the 6 now-“decommissioned” Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors with their solar installations in 2013. A modern nuclear reacrtor puts out 1GW, so if they can keep this build rate up (falling feed-in tariffs might be cancelled out by falling solar costs and economies of scale), they can build the equivalent production of around 1 modern nuclear reactor every year. Storage options need to be taken into account for this comparison, but you don’t have the risk premium or the political opposition to nuclear power by going solar either. Since nuclear reactors take around 10 years to build (good luck getting any built in Japan for a while…), this is a MUCH faster solution to getting the country off fossil fuels. Add in wind and ocean power and nuclear is clearly too slow to reduce CO2 emissions like we have to in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

      • Yep, 7 gigawatts of solar in Japan will produce as much electricity as one very large nuclear reactor. They are clearly capable of very rapidly building up their solar capacity. While it did take a little time for the solar industry to get underway it is now definitely in the swing of things.

        Not sure what you mean by storage options though, Sault. Japan would have to be getting about a third or more of its electricity from solar before they have to worry about storage. Currently just about every watt produced by solar goes into cutting natural gas use. Then after the natural gas demon is beaten into submission it will be a two way battle between cutting their coal consumption and charging their pumped hydro capacity.

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