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A Good Fit: Japan's Solar Power Program and Prospects for the New Power System

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4 Author(s)
Kazuhiko Ogimoto ; Institute of Industrial Science, University of Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, Japan ; Izumi Kaizuka ; Yuzuru Ueda ; Takashi Oozeki

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011 spurred numerous discussions and debates regarding the national energy policy of Japan. One of the outcomes of this process was a new feed-in tariff (FIT) program to promote renewable energy, including photovoltaic (PV) systems, that went into effect on 1 July 2012. This new incentive program is expected to completely change the PV market in Japan, which has historically been dominated by residential PV applications. The FIT will drive not only the residential sector but also the nonresidential sector, including the new entrants to the Japanese power generation business: megawatt-scale PV power plants. Accelerating the introduction of renewable energy is important not only for diversifying Japan's sources of energy (for energy security) and combating global warming (for the environment) but also for the development of green industries (for the economy). It is essential that Japan create an environment conducive to the expansion of renewable energy in Japan by identifying the appropriate mix of regulatory measures (e.g., FITs), public support, and private-sector voluntary efforts best suited to each energy source. This article describes the current status of the PV market in Japan; the new FIT program and its impacts on the PV market; and further institutional, technical, and R&D challenges for PV dissemination.

Published in:

IEEE Power and Energy Magazine  (Volume:11 ,  Issue: 2 )