Japan soon to be largest solar market

Bloomberg

Japan is set to overtake Germany as the world’s largest solar market by annual installations this year as government incentives to encourage clean energy in light of the Fukushima nuclear crisis attract investment.

Developers may install 6.9 gigawatts to 9.4 gigawatts of solar in 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Germany led solar installations in 2012 with 7.6 gigawatts of capacity.

The outlook from Bloomberg New Energy Finance revises the lower end of a forecast by the London-based researcher, which earlier called for Japan to install 6.1 gigawatts to 9.4 gigawatts of capacity. Based on the most conservative estimates, BNEF previously said China would edge out Japan as the world’s largest market this year.

The change comes after the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association announced that domestic shipments of solar modules rose 73 percent in the first three months of the year compared with the previous quarter, according to the report.

The rise in shipments is due to the “generous” rate solar power producers receive in an incentive program that started in July, according to BNEF. Japan’s solar tariff is currently ¥37.8 per kilowatt hour for 20 years, more than twice those of China and Germany.

Japan’s energy needs are in the spotlight after the Fukushima disaster prompted the idling of all but two of the nation’s 50 nuclear reactors.

Panels on post offices

Kyodo

Japan Post Co. on Monday announced plans to enter the solar power generation business with the aim of selling electricity to power companies from next March.

Japan Post will spend ¥3 billion to ¥4 billion to install solar panels on the roofs of 286 post offices and facilities nationwide after informing the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry of the new business.

Japan Post will first install solar panels in 35 prefectures but not for now in Hokkaido, Okinawa and the other 10 prefectures due in part to fewer daylight hours.

Its solar project will produce the equivalent of energy needed to serve about 3,000 households a year, Japan Post said.