Solar power in Japan

Solar power in Japan has been expanding since the late 1990s. The country is a leading manufacturer of photovoltaics (PV) and a large installer of domestic PV systems with most of them grid connected. Japan has an insolation of about 4.3 to 4.8 kWh/(m²•day).

Solar power has become an important national priority since the country’s shift in policies toward renewable energy after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. Japan was the world’s second largest market for solar PV growth in 2013 and 2014, adding a record 6.97 GW and 9.74 GW of nominal nameplate capacity, respectively. By the end of 2016, cumulative capacity reached 42,750 MW, the world’s second largest solar PV installed capacity, behind China. Overall installed capacity in 2016 was estimated to be sufficient to supply almost 5% of the nation’s annual electricity demand. Although solar power represents a significant and growing source of electricity generation in the country, hydroelectricity still had the largest share of renewable energy with 49.9 GW. This can be compared to the 33 GW of installed solar capacity in Japan after 2015.

Solar potential of Japan
The solar energy in Japan is experiencing rapid growth, especially since the establishment in 2012 of a policy of support among the most attractive in the world.

The solar thermal sector of Japan is progressing, but remains very late compared to the leading countries like Germany and especially China.

Japan has long been the world leader in solar photovoltaic (PV): end of 2004, Japan became the 1 st world market with four leading companies in the production of PV systems: Sharp, Kyocera, Mitsubishi and Sanyo; believing that this technology had reached maturity, the government decided to stop subsidizing it; the market then entered a slowdown phase and China exceeded it in 2007. In July 2012, after Fukushima, the government set up, as part of its energy transition policy., a new support system based on very attractive purchase rates, favoring self-consumption in the residential sector as well as large-scale power plants; the Japanese market immediately regained its place among the world leaders.

The photovoltaic sector provided only 3.4% of the national electricity production in 2015, but its progression is very fast: +32% per year over ten years (2002-2012), +35% in 2012, +105% in 2013, + 72% in 2014 and + 46% in 2015. The International Energy Agency estimates that Japan’s production of solar photovoltaic electricity accounts for 5.9% of total electricity generation at the end of 2017; only four countries exceed this rate, including Germany (7.5%). Japan ranked 2015 3 th largest global solar power generators with 14.5% of the world total, behind Germany and China; in 2016, it was overtaken by the United States, but has itself overtaken Germany.

In 2017, Japan’s PV market was ranked 4 th in the world for installed capacity in the year with 7% of the global market, behind China, the US and India, bringing its total capacity to 3th world with 12.2% of the world total, behind China (32%) and the US (12.7%).

The concentrated thermodynamic solar sector, after some pilot projects in the 1980s, has never led to commercial-scale projects, since the sunshine in Japan is not reaching a sufficient level for this sector.

In Japan, dissemination of photovoltaic power generation has been promoted by the RPS system, subsidies and subsidies introduced in FY2003. It was once the world leader in introduction volume, but the introduction temporarily stagnated due to suspension of subsidies, passed through Germany and Spain. The subsidy system was restarted in January 2009, but the high cost hindered the spread, and the proportion of renewable energy, excluding hydroelectric power generation, of the annual generated electricity amount in fiscal 2009 was only 1%.

The government introduced policies that promote the introduction of renewable energy little by little to counter global warming, strengthen Japan’s competitiveness, and improve energy security. Since November 2009, as a mechanism that cost reduction effect is higher than the RPS system, a surplus electricity purchase system of solar power generation was introduced, and the electric power company was obliged to purchase surplus electricity other than household consumption. The main target was small-scale facilities for residential use (less than 10 kW), and it was gradually spreading. In view of the fact that there is an advantage such as improvement of consciousness of electricity conservation etc. and the transition to full quantity purchase requires new wiring work in the existing introduction house, etc. For the residential solar power generation, the existing surplus electricity purchase system It was decided to continue.

Conversion of energy policy
Amid the momentum aiming for a low-carbon society, in 2008 the government aimed to promote the introduction of photovoltaic power generation and implemented policies such as introduction of mega solar etc. Following the Tohoku Region Pacific Offshore Earthquake of March 11, 2011 and the accident caused by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the government will drastically review the energy policies focusing on nuclear power generation and accelerate the development of renewable energy We have launched a policy. Prime Minister Naoto Kan at that time said on July 13, “We should aim at a society independent of nuclear power plants,” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda who succeeded, “We will aim for a society dependent on departure from long term” Made a statement. Today, the government is discussing a proposed revision of the basic energy plan based on the Basic Energy Policy Law.

Beginning in 2012, the purchase of a fixed quantity price for all business purposes begins, and it is a policy to expand solar power generation, especially mega solar that was behind compared with other countries. In Japan, residential use accounts for 80% of the photovoltaic power generation market, but similarly to Germany, Italy, France, Spain, the United States, etc., demand for systems for non-residential buildings and electric power business is also expanding.

Institutional reform
Administrative reform conference and national strategy office are promoting reform of energy legislation and regulations.

Institutional reform common to renewable energy

Introduction of total fixed price purchase system
With regard to the total quantity fixed price pricing system (FIT: Feed-in Tariff), the government is responsible for the total amount of electricity generated by solar power generation for non-residential and power generation businesses, as well as wind power generation, geothermal power generation, small and medium-sized hydropower generation and biomass power generation It is a mechanism that obligates electric utility companies to purchase at the decided price. According to the new growth strategy the Cabinet administration decided, the system became one of the “21 national strategic projects” and the goal to expand the market of renewable energy to 10 trillion yen was raised. It was considered from the end of 2009, the report was settled in February 2011, and the general framework of the system was settled. On April 5 of the same year, a special measure bill was submitted to the National Assembly, after consultation and amendment by each party, the Renewable Energy Purchasing Law was passed and passed on August 23 and 26, the system will be effective from July 1, 2012 It was started. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry expects the introduction of photovoltaic power generation to proceed, the system price will decrease due to increased demand and technological innovation. In fact, some companies plan to enter the system as stable earnings can be expected by the start of this system.

Utilization of cultivated abandoned land
Legislation to promote the utilization of photovoltaic power generation, wind power generation, woody biomass power generation by systematically consolidating abandoned areas of farming and fishing villages has been studied. In areas where cultivated land and cultivated abandoned land are mixed, it is difficult to build a large scale power plant, so it is necessary to consolidate abandoned areas of cultivation. The purpose of this bill is to systematically develop power development so as not to hinder the use of agricultural land and fishing ports and surrounding waters.
Municipalities formulate a “basic plan” that enables both power development and agriculture, forestry and fishery to be reconciled, and set up areas to promote power generation facilities.
According to this plan, the power producer will summarize the “equipment development plan” and apply to the municipalities.
Once the plan is approved, the ownership of the cultivated land and the cultivated abandoned land is exchanged, and a collective power station site can be secured. In addition, administrative procedures of related laws and regulations can be done collectively.
Production cost can be reduced in cultivated land. Agriculture, forestry and fishery will be able to receive a certain percentage of electricity sales income.

System reform related to solar power generation

Review of safety regulation under Electricity Business Law
The enforcement regulations of the Electricity Utilities Industry Law have been revised, and safety regulations are relaxed.
Reduce the range of 500 kW to 2,000 kW unnecessary for construction plan notification and pre-use safety control inspection required for large-scale solar power generation facilities
Based on the characteristics of solar power generation, streamlining test methods such as load breaking tests in pre-service safety management inspection

Relaxation of factory site regulation · Outside regulation
Partial revision was made on January 31, 2012 of the factory location law applicable to the location of mega solar. Industry classification In type 5 “Electricity Supply Industry”, the upper limit of the ratio of production area, green area / environmental facilities, and other facilities area is set to 50%, 25%, 25% of the site area respectively, A photovoltaic power plant facility was added as the ninth species, and the upper limit of the area of ​​the production facility was relaxed from 50% to 75%. It was pointed out that this regulation is a site restriction. On 9th March of the same year, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yokoo Edano said that if we plan to install photovoltaic power generation equipment for power sale in facilities other than unused sites and factory sites by July, they will not be subject to the factory location law, It indicated the policy of not requiring the notification of law and greening obligation. Also, when installing in the factory premises, regardless of the usage of the power generation and the installation entity, the solar power generation facility is positioned as an environmental facility. Even in industrial areas of urban areas with high land fee, profitability of power generation project by “roof lending” will be improved.

Included in the power supply plan
The Federation of Electric Power Companies announced a trial calculation that about 10% of the rated output of solar power generation equipment will be transmitted to the electric power system as surplus electric power at the peak electricity demand in the summer season. In response, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry decided to allow incorporation into the power supply plan. From fiscal 2012, electric power companies will include the output of photovoltaic power generation facilities owned by their own company and companies in the pipe as supply power.

The price of solar panels has declined worldwide due to the influx of inexpensive Chinese products, but the system price of the Japanese market is higher than that of other countries, and the cost reduction is a problem. In the case of a 100 kW class system, the solar cell module is about 30%, the stand / cable · construction cost is about 60%, the power conditioner · junction box is about 50%, which is higher than Germany. Construction costs for housing are falling, but non-residential use is tailor-made so it has not declined so much.

Cell module
In the production of solar cell / module, the experience is effective, so the price decreases as the introduction amount increases. In addition, there is economy of scale that the unit prices become cheaper if the production scale is expanded.

System integration
In the European and US markets, there is a great presence of cell module manufacturers that also serve as independent system integrators and system integration (SI). System integrators procure large amounts of peripherals (BOS: en: balance of system) such as inverters, pedestals, junction boxes, cables, etc. in addition to the panels from around the world, so price bargaining power is We are building a strong, low cost system. Even in Japan, if system integrators with project management skills such as system design, selection of construction sites, adjustment with local and electric companies, process control, compliance with laws and the like are brought up, the system price is expected to decline.

Solar thermal
According to the International Energy Agency, by the end of 2015, the cumulative installed capacity of solar thermal collectors in Japan reached 2,769 MWth (3,956,218 m 2 of sensors), far behind the world leader: China (309 470 MWth) and the United States (17,416 MWth); Japan’s share of the world total was 0.6%. The Japanese market is down: only 75 MWth have been installed, and the installed capacity has dropped by 14% in two years. Japanese solar thermal saved 214 kTep of energy and 690 kT CO 2eq in 2015.


Electricity generation
The International Energy Agency estimates Japanese solar photovoltaic electricity production at 5.9% of total electricity generation in 2017; this estimate is based on installed capacity at 31/12/2017, which is higher than the actual production for the year. Only four countries have a higher share of solar electricity: Honduras, Germany (7.5%), Greece and Italy (7.1%).

Photovoltaic power generation in Japan reached 35.86 TWh in 2015, or 3.4% of the country’s electricity production.
Japan placed 2015 3 e world for photovoltaic electricity production with 14.5% of the world total, behind China and Germany 18.3% 15.7% 3; in 2016, it remains at the 3 th place with 49.5 TWh, although overtaken by the United States (52.8 TWh), Germany being relegated to the 4 th rank.

In 2012, Japan produced 11.9% of its electricity from renewable energies (RE); the solar share was 0.7%; its growth is very fast: +32% per year over ten years (2002-2012), +39.5% in 2012.

Installed power
In 2017, Japan installed 7 GWc against 8.6 GWc in 2016; thus it was the 4 th market of 2017 with 7% of the global market, behind China 53 GWp, the United States 10.6 GWp and India 9.1 GWp, bringing its installed power 49 GWp, the 3 th in the world with 12.2% of the global total, far behind China (131 GWp) but close to the United States (49 GWp), and ahead of Germany (42 GWp). The authorities are seeking to constrain the strong demand for photovoltaic systems installation in accordance with the restrictions imposed by the network’s absorption capacities. METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)) in 2008, it revoked approximately 260,000 projects with a cumulative power of 16.4 GWc out of the 84.5 GWc of projects approved under the previous purchase rate system. In April 2017, METI revised its incentive system and has already approved in this new framework a power of 45.4 GWp, or 274 979 systems of more than 20 kW.

In 2015, Japan had installed 11 GWp (2 th year market with 22% of the global market, behind China: 15.15 GWp), bringing its installed capacity 34.41 MWp to 3 th world with 15.2% of the world total, behind China (43.53 GWc) and Germany (39.7 GWc).

Since the launch of Japan’s photovoltaic program in 2012, METI has approved 79.8 MWp of photovoltaic projects 8.

In 2014, Japan remained at second in the world, with 9.7 GWp installed during the year, 25% of the global market, approaching the Chinese leader (10.56 GWp) and bringing its cumulative power 23.3 GWp (3 th in the world).

In 2013, Japan has risen to 2 th largest global photovoltaic market with 6.9 GW installed in the year (11.8 GW in China, 4.8 GW in the US); its cumulative installed capacity placed him 4 th in the world with 10% of the world total 10 to 13.6 GW.

Solar market analysts predict a strong development in Japan, driven by the construction of large photovoltaic parks; in this segment, Japan could become the market n o 1 ahead of Germany; despite the fall in the purchase price in 2014, the market should continue to grow rapidly.

The country appeared in 2012 to 5th in the world for installed PV power: 6914 MW, representing 7% of the world total, behind the Germany (32,411 MW, 31%), the Italian, the China and the States States. In 2012 the Japan was the 3 th in the world for the total power of the new installations of the year: 2 GW, after China (5 GW) and the US (3.35 GW); most of these installations are connected to the network.

At the end of 2012, Japan had installed nearly 7,000 MW of photovoltaic panels, yielding 0.77% of the electricity in Japan.

Government action

Feed-in tariff
The Japanese government is seeking to expand solar power by enacting subsidies and a feed-in tariff (FIT). In December 2008, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced a goal of 70% of new homes having solar power installed, and would be spending $145 million in the first quarter of 2009 to encourage home solar power. The government enacted a feed-in tariff on November, 2009 that requires utilities to purchase excess solar power sent to the grid by homes and businesses and pay twice the standard electricity rate for that power.

On June 18, 2012, a new feed-in tariff was approved, of 42 Yen/kWh. The tariff covers the first ten years of excess generation for systems less than 10 kW, and generation for twenty years for systems over 10 kW. It became effective July 1, 2012. In April 2013, the FIT was reduced to 37.8 Yen/kWh. The FIT was further reduced to 32 Yen/kWh in April 2014.

In March 2016, a new feed-in tariff was approved. The Procurement Price Calculation Committee compiled and publicized recommendations concerning the FY 2016 purchase prices and the periods therefor. Respecting the recommendations, METI finalized the prices and periods therefor as below.

(1) Electricity generated by photovoltaic power for non-household customers (10 kW or more) was reduced from 27 yen/kWh to 24 yen/kWh.

(2) Electricity generated by photovoltaic power for household customers (10 kW or less) was reduced from 33 yen/kWh to 31 yen/kWh when generators are not required to have output control equipment installed. When generators are required to have output control equipment installed the price was reduced from 35 yen/kWh to 33 yen/kWh.

Residential PV feed-in tariffs for systems below 10 kW were updated in 2017 to values between JPY24/kWh to JPY28/kWh depending on the circumstances. These will remain unchanged until 2019.

The most recent FIT only concerns non-residential solar power plants. The new non-residential FIT will go from JPY21/kWh in 2017 to JPY18/kWh for facilities certified in and after April 2018.

Japanese Photovoltaic Industry
In 2013, a Japanese company was among the top ten manufacturers of photovoltaic modules: Sharp Corporation, at 3 e world, behind China’s Yingli Green Energy and Trina Solar, with a production of PV modules 2100 MWp in 2013, a figure turnover of € 1,950 million. In the emerging markets of Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, the Japanese Sharp and Kyocera continue to hold their own in spite of the Chinese competition.

Japan has long been the world leader in solar photovoltaic: in response to the 1974 oil shock, the Japanese government launched a research program (“Sunshine program”), supplemented in 1994 by a support system for the emerging sector: the “Residential PV System Dissemination Program”; end 2004, Japan became the 1 st world market with a cumulative installed capacity of 1.3 GWp, 300,000 homes with PV grid-connected and four leading companies in the production of PV systems: Sharp, Kyocera, Mitsubishi and Sanyo. Believing that this technology had reached maturity, the government decided to stop subsidizing it; entered the market since a slowdown in China and passed the stage in 2007, becoming the 1 st global producer, whose companies in 2010 produced three times more PV cells than Japanese. Japan remains a leading manufacturer of PV systems, renowned for the quality of its cells and modules. In July 2012, the government set up a new support system based on some of the most attractive purchase rates in the world, favoring self-consumption in the residential sector as well as large-scale power plants; since then, power station projects have flown in: 70 MWp (Kyocera), 100 MWp (Toshiba) plant near Fukushima, etc.; while the installed capacities in 2011 were only 1.2 GWc, the connections of 2012 reach 2 GWc, bringing the photovoltaic installed power to 7 GWc; moreover, in the first quarter of 2013 alone, 1.5 GWhave been installed, which augurs great development; more than 100 photovoltaic parks are under construction or planned.

Photovoltaic support policy
Japan has long been the world leader in solar photovoltaic: in response to the 1974 oil shock, the Japanese government launched a research program (“Sunshine program”), supplemented in 1994 by a support system for the emerging sector: the “Residential PV System Dissemination Program” which provided 70,000 solar roofs for the year 2000; in 2004, Japan became the world leader; believing that this technology had reached maturity, the government decided to stop subsidizing it; the market then entered a phase of slowdown. In July 2012, after FukushimaAs part of its energy transition policy, the government has set up a new support system based on some of the most attractive purchase rates in the world, favoring self-consumption in the residential sector as well as power stations. large capacity: for installations of less than 10 kWp, surplus electricity not consumed is purchased 42 ¥/ kWh (40 c €/ kWh) for 10 years, and for those over 10 kWp, the same price is guaranteed for 20 years; these very high tariffs must be placed in the Japanese context where electricity prices are well above the world average.

Purchase prices were lowered in 2014: 32 ¥/ kWh, or 23 c €/ kWh (-11%), for commercial solar installations and 37 ¥/ kWh, or 26 c €/ kWh (-26%) for individuals.

According to the Deutsche Bank Solar Market Study (January 2014), the announced cuts in feed-in tariffs for April 2014 (-11%) will leave these tariffs among the most raised in the world; according to official July 2013 data, 4 GWc had been connected under the purchase tariff regime, and an additional 22 GWc had been approved; one third of the installed capacity is on the roof of houses; several foreign companies have announced investments in Japan, including First Solar and Canadian Solar.

The Japanese Ministry of Industry announced on November 4, 2014 a flattening of its photovoltaic support policy, after the rebellion of five major electricians in the country who now refuse to validate any new solar project related to their network; the government had imposed from July 2012 to the electricians generous rates of purchase of renewable electricity. With a redemption at 42 ¥/ kWh(4 euros at the time), photovoltaic projects were the most profitable on the planet; in 2013, Japan installed 7.1 GWc and tens of thousands of projects are officially under development, but as the date of the actual launch of the solar power plant is not integrated into the validation process, many investors have filed very early, in the urgency, files to be guaranteed the highest tariffs and are now waiting quietly for a fall in the prices of facilities to eventually launch their solar farm. If all the projects approved by the government were launched, photovoltaics would represent 8% of Japanese power generation and generate a potential overcharge of electricity bills of ¥ 3 trillion,.

The growth of the Japanese market is accompanied by a drop in the level of production aid. The government has reduced the purchase price by 11% in 1 st April 2016 to 27 ¥/ kWh (22 c €/ kWh) to 24 ¥/ kWh (19 c €/ kWh) for installations of more than 10 kWc, and from 35 ¥/ kWh (27.6 c €/ kWh) to 33 ¥/ kWh (26 c €/ kWh) for installations of less than 10 kWp with inverters.

Photovoltaics installed capacity and generation

Installed PV capacity (in MW)
1992 19.0 n/a
1993 24.3 5.3
1994 31.2 6.9
1995 43.4 12.2
1996 59.6 16.2
1997 91.3 31.7
1998 133 41.7
1999 209 76
2000 330 121
2001 453 123
2002 637 184
2003 860 223
2004 1,132 272
2005 1,422 290
2006 1,709 287
2007 1,919 210
2008 2,144 225
2009 2,627 483
2010 3,618 991
2011 4,914 1,296
2012 6,632 1,718
2013 13,599 6,967
2014 23,339 9,740
2015 34,150 10,811
2016 42,750 8,600
2017 49,750 7,000
Source: EPIA and IEA-PVPS. All nominal capacity figures are reconverted from WAC to Wp.

The government set solar PV targets in 2004 and revised them in 2009:

28 GW of solar PV capacity by 2020
53 GW of solar PV capacity by 2030
10% of total domestic primary energy demand met with solar PV by 2050
The targets set for 2020 were surpassed in 2014, and the target for 2030 was surpassed in 2018.

New targets were adopted after 2011.

Solar manufacturing industry
Japan is a leading manufacturer of photovoltaics. In other words, photovoltaic devices use semiconductors in order to generate electricity from the sunlight. Solar companies of Japan include: Kyocera, Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Sanyo, Sharp Solar, Solar Frontier, and Toshiba.

Main photovoltaic plants in Japan

Name locality Prefecture Area Commissioning
Operator / Owner
Eurus Rokkasho Solar Park Rokkasho pref. Aomori 253  ha October 2015 Eurus Energy
Tomatoh Abira Solar Park Abira Hokkaidō 166  ha December 2015 Softbank Corp
82 Oita City Mega Solar Power Plant Oita pref. from Ōita , Kyūshū April 2014 subsidiary of Marubeni Corp.
70 Kagoshima Nanatsujima Megasolar Project Kagoshima Kagoshima Prefecture 2013 Kyocera
56.9 Furukawa Mega-solar Project Osaki-shi pref. of Miyagi , Tōhoku area end of 2016 Virginia Solar Group / South Wind
50 Tahara Solar Wind Project Tahara Aichi October 2014 Mitsui

Notable projects
he Solar Ark, built in 2002, is one of the largest solar buildings in the world.

After the shift away from a nuclear power-dependent energy policy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident, the first three solar plants by TEPCO were completed in 2011 and 2012, the Ukishima Solar Power Plant, 7 MW, the Ogishima Solar Power Plant, 13 MW, and the Komekurayama Solar Power Plant, 10 MW. The output of all three can be monitored on the internet.

341 MW of photovoltaics are planned for the island of Hokkaido, and a total of 1,800 MW of photovoltaics projects have been approved for Japan, as of October 2012.

Additional projects include the 70MW Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant by Kyocera in Kagoshima Prefecture that went online in November 2013 and a 100 MW plant by Toshiba in Minami Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

A 77 MW photovoltaic power plant is planned for Tahara City, on the Atsumi Peninsula, and is expected to be completed in 2014. A 200 MW plant is proposed for Tomakomai.

Another recent project starting in 2017 will include a floating solar farm on the Yamakura Dam. This project will provide enough power for 5,000 households in Japan. It is said to be completed in 2018 and will be located on a reservoir in Japan’s Chiba prefecture.

It is expected that many new projects will be constructed, to take advantage of the new feed-in tariff.

Main photovoltaic power plant projects in Japan
Name locality Prefecture Commissioning
Developer / Owner
480 Ukujima Mega Solar Plant Ukujima Nagasaki 2018 Photovolt Development (Germany) for TeraSol GK
155 Onikobe Ōsaki Miyagi 2018 Photovolt Development (Germany)
96.2 Hosoe Mega-solar Project Miyazaki Miyazaki 2018 Pacifico Energy
50 Yamagata Yamagata Yamagata 2017 Photovolt Development

Source from Wikipedia