Japan set to accelerate PV expansion

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Japan’s cabinet approved the country’s New Basic Energy Plan last month.

According to a new report by Tokyo-based research and consulting firm RTS Corporation, the government plan takes into account Japan’s mid to long-term energy supply and demand structure for the next two decades.

The plan is designed as a guideline for Japan’s energy policy, including political issues to be addressed in the future.

The RTS report, PV Activities in Japan and Global PV Highlights, underscores the fact that one of the plan’s significant features is the establishment of a "ministerial council on renewable energy" in order to introduce renewable energy to a maximum extent.

Anticipating structural changes in energy supply around the world, the plan recommends that Japan concentrate on reforms in the 2018 to 2020 period in order to establish a stable energy supply and demand structure.

With regard to renewable energy, the plan calls for a "maximum acceleration" for three years beginning in 2013 followed by a continued acceleration thereafter.

In addition, grids are to be strengthened, regulations rationalized and research and development on cost reductionwill be steadily promoted, according to the RTS report.

Furthermore, the government is expected to establish a ministerial council on renewable energy while also reinforcing its own function in leading the introduction of renewable energy.

Other key points in the plan include facilitated collaboration among concerned ministries and agencies and an overall greater push of renewable energy than earlier energy plans.

In order to achieve greater solar power generation, the Japanese plan calls for support for community-level efforts to increase PV power generation as part of promoting utilization of renewable energy in distributed energy systems. The RTS report points out that support for community-level PV projects will be readily available due to the ease of installing PV systems on a medium scale as a distributed power source without much burden on the grid. In addition, PV systems can be used as emergency power sources. The plan recognizes PV systems as suitable for distributed power sources supporting self-consumption, local production and energy consumption.

The report adds that distributed energy systems are energy sources that take root in communities and it is therefore important to promote the introduction of PV systems in communities and municipalities.

"Distributed energy systems offer different levels of people in the nation opportunities to recognize energy issues as their own issues," the report notes. "They also create new industries in communities, leading to revitalization of communities. In case supply from large-scale power sources becomes difficult in an emergency, renewable energy will contribute to securing a certain supply of energy in communities."