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Japan has slipped from the No. 2 position in the world in grid-connected solar photovoltaic capacity, replaced by Spain, according to a recent study by an international body.

The draft report by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) said the existing capacity for Japan, which had once topped the list before falling in 2005, totaled 1.97 million kw at the end of 2008.

Germany topped the list with 5.4 million kw, followed by Spain with 2.3 million kw. Spain saw an upsurge in 2008.

Japan is now a distant third.

According to the REN21 draft, Japan fell to fourth place in newly installed solar photovoltaic capacity in 2008, clearly indicating the nation is lagging far behind in the development of renewable energy.

In 2008, added capacity for Spain stood at 1.7 million kw, followed by Germany with 1.5 million kw, the United States with 300,000 kw and Japan with 240,000 kw.

“There is a huge gap between the policies of (Japan) and those of Germany and Spain, which require that power companies make long-term purchases of (renewable energy) at uniform prices,” said Tetsunari Iida, head of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies.

Iida said that although “Japan has also required power companies to purchase a certain amount of such energy, it is so small that the policy has ended in failure.”

He warned that Japan could continue to fall down the list if nothing is done.

According to the REN21 report, Japan logged 1.9 million kw in wind power capacity, one-twelfth of that recorded by top rankers, including the U.S. and Germany.

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