FIT battle continues as PV Japan opens

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The Japanese photovoltaic industry’s trade-show has opened today at the Makuhari Messe, outside of Toyko. The show was meant to take place earlier in the year but was postponed to save power, in the wake of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and meltdown at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear reactor.

The show has opened to a backdrop of controversy, as a row over the composition of committee, which will determine the details underpinning the country’s new FIT regime, is debated. Renewable energy supporters, including the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies Iida Tetsunari, held a press conference today on the issue.

What Tetsunari and others are protesting against is what they call are the "FIT hitmen", or public figures supportive of nuclear energy, to the committee which will determine the rates of the FIT, the duration of contracts and the scheme’s cap and capacity.

Calling it an attempt to "occupy" the FIT determination process, Tokyo-based Public Policy academic, Andrew DeWit, told pv magazine that while the Japanese FIT may less influential because of the contribution of these "pro-nuclear" committee members, that the movement towards photovoltaics and renewables at other levels is too persuasive to be permanently hampered.

In any event, added DeWitt, the negotiations over the next few months will make for compelling viewing. "Because of the scale of vested interests, the scale of power market, the scale of the opportunity, the nature of [post-Fukushima] rebuild and the whole shebang put together, is making this an enormous spectacle. It’s going to be a very public affair."

DeWit predicts the committee will deliver a schedule of FITs and other details by February or March next year. "It will be a fascinating fight over the next few months."

The FIT will come into effect from July 1, 2012.