Renewables energy capacity surges

Kyodo

Renewable energy facilities that newly started operating in fiscal 2012 totaled 2.08 million kw in capacity, equivalent to two nuclear reactors, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Tuesday.

Solar power facilities, including those installed at homes and mega-solar plants, largely contributed to the reading on the back of incentives introduced in July last year to promote renewable energy sources. Their capacity reached 1.98 million kw.

Because deliveries of some solar panels were not made in time, the capacity of operating facilities did not reach the 2.5 million kw as projected by the government for the year that ended in March. But a METI official said the introduction of renewable energy is “smooth,” noting facilities with a combined 1.28 million kw capacity commenced operations in April and May.

Meanwhile, the capacity of facilities approved to operate by the ministry came to about 21.09 million kw between July last year and this March, in a sign that many facilities are not yet in service despite winning the permission.

Under the so-called feed-in tariff scheme, power utilities are obliged to pay for electricity generated from renewable energy sources at fixed prices. The costs are passed on to consumers.

Japan is gearing up to introduce renewable energy after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster heightened public concerns over the use of atomic power. Of the nation’s 50 commercial reactors, only two are currently online.

In fiscal 2011, renewable energy accounted for about 10 percent of Japan’s total power generation. Excluding hydroelectric power, the figure stood at a mere 1.4 percent, according to METI.