Japan becomes third largest solar power market

With cumulative capacity almost 5GW, the Japan Solar Power Sector Analysis report from KuicK Research notes the country now ranks third only behind Germany and Italy for installed solar power capacity. The country added 1GW of new solar capacity in 2011 – making it a record year for the country’s industry.

While it is still some way behind Germany and Italy, Japan accounted for significant growth is expected in the coming years. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster last year, Japan turned its back on nuclear power – shutting down its three nuclear plants – and, with no significant oil, gas or coal reserves of its own, has turned to solar power and other renewables to bridge its energy supply gaps. Under its new policy, solar power development is fast-tracked and a new feed in tariff structure, implemented on the July 1st, provides solar with the highest tariff over other renewable sources of energy. At JPY42/kWh, it is one of the highest solar tariffs in the world, notes the report.

Significantly, more than 99% of the projects signed off after the new structure was introduced were solar projects, with development proposed by domestic and foreign companies alike.

Written by Robin Whitlock