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Japan Looks Towards Solar Expansion

28 Jun

Solar energy is expanding rapidly in Japan.

Political leaders have been lending support.  Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan aims to put solar panels on10 million rooftops by 2030.  Other leading government officials have been encouraging use of a Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) to encourages fast-track solar energy development.

Germany’s FIT has been a major contributing factor to its leadership in the global solar market.  Japan adopted a similar FIT in Nov 2009, and has since made alterations to maximize use of the program.  Recently, Japan increased rates for non-residential solar installations to US $0.48/kWh, which has sparked interest from global conglomerates like Mitsubishi.  Taking advantage of these policies, Mitsubishi plans to build large scale plants throughout the country. If this trend continues, the solar industry in Japan, the world’s third largest economy, could see a significant boost.

According to a scenario put forth by University of Tokyo professor Ryoichi Komiyama, if Japan targeted 30GW of new solar, the market for solar panel production and installation could grow to as much as $261 billion with a FIT in place. Putting this into perspective, 30GW is nearly 3/4 of the total amount of solar installed globally over the past decade.

This may only be the beginning.  Japan’s environment ministry has estimated the potential for commercial solar projects in the nation could, in theory, grow to 150GW – 10 times that of Germany.

We are closely watching the policy developments in Japan as the nation retools its energy policy following the Fukushima plant disaster, and expect to see continuing opportunities for clean energy.

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