Things look set to get back on track in Japan with regard to utility-scale solar projects, based on recent news out of the country.
Reportedly, the utility companies that had previously stopped accepting applications for utility-scale solar will begin doing so again — but with a stricter ruleset this time.
These new rules — concerning power output from solar projects — are going into effect this week, and are intended to deal with the causes behind the recent “solar application acceptance stoppage.”
The rules come as a result of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry’s previous establishment of a working group to address the issue. That working group determined that while some of the projects approved were over the available capacity limits (17.3 gigawatts), much of it was not (51 gigawatts). As a result, the utilities have been cleared to begin considering applications again — final decisions are still up to the utilities.
As part of the debate that began with the hiatus on application acceptance, the Japanese government also launched a review of the country’s feed-in tariff (FiT) program as a means of addressing worries that a bubble was forming as a result of the program. The new rules are partly derived from this review.
Amongst the ramifications of the new rules, is the reality that utility companies can now choose to cease accepting the electricity generated solar projects into the grid for up to 30 days a year when supply exceeds demand — without compensating the solar project owners at all.
This applies mostly to larger projects. Such measures won’t affect systems/projects under 10 kilowatts (kW) capacity in size. Otherwise, though, all projects that receive FiT approval after the end of March will be subject to these new rules.
On a related note, Japan’s government will reportedly be setting solid targets for renewable energy growth in the country sometime later this year — representing a possible change in policy for the country, which has otherwise chosen not to state clear aims with regard to renewables.
Image Credit: Aikawa Solar Power Plant, Kanagawa Pref., Japan, via ∑64 (CC BY 3.0)
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