Japan adds nearly 4 GW of PV capacity

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has reported the installation of 3,993 MW of PV capacity in the country between April 1 and October 31, 2013.

METI’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) compiled the data covering the status of new facilities generating renewable energy in the time period.

"Photovoltaic power facilities steadily continue to be introduced, and the total combined capacity of such facilities as of October 31, 2013, reached 5,852,000 kW after the feed-in tariff scheme was introduced," METI said on its website.

As of Oct. 31, 2013, Japan’s cumulative installed PV capacity had reached 11.226 GW.

Of the 3.99 GW of new PV capacity, residential accounted for 870 MW, while non-residential systems made up the rest, 3,123 MW.

From July 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013, Japan’s total PV capacity reached 1,673 MW, with residential making up 969 MW and non-residential 704 MW.

Prior to the introduction of Japan’s feed-in tariff program, which went into effect July 1, 2012, combined total solar capacity in the country was at about 5.6 GW.

Japan became the first country in the world to surpass the 1 GW of cumulative PV capacity back in 2004.

METI launched a subsidy program for residential PV systems in 1994, according to data from NPD Solarbuzz. Initially, the subsidy covered 50% of the cost of PV systems. As a result, until 2005, Japan had the largest installed PV capacity of any country in the world.

Solar PV deployment in Japan slowed in the mid-2000s, due in part to the country’s ten-year energy plan that was approved in March 2002 and called for an expansion of nuclear generation by approximately 30% by 2011. The plan included the construction of between nine and 12 new nuclear power plants, equivalent to 17.5 GW of new nuclear generating capacity.

Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, however, Japan began to shut down its nuclear reactors and promote the wider use of solar power.