Japan installed 7 GW of solar capacity in last fiscal year

Japan installed more than 7 GW of solar PV capacity in the last fiscal year, a near tenfold increase on 2012, according to figures compiled by the Agency for Natural Resouces and Energy (ANRE) and published this week by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, 1.66 GW of PV capacity was installed in Japan. However, in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, that figure rose to 7.04 GW – an impressive increase in the space of just 12 months.

Aside from such a noteworthy increase in capacity, METI’s figures also signal a shift in market segmentation. In fiscal year 2012, the majority of the 1.66 GW came via rooftop residential installations, with more than 960 MW installed. In fiscal year 2013, however, the large-scale ground-mount and commercial sector dominated, with 5.73 GW of capacity added. The residential sector grew, too, to 1.3 GW, but fell way short of the large-scale segment.

In March, the final month before the end of the fiscal year, Japan recorded 853 MW of PV capacity installations – a performance likely boosted by a rush to install before the feed-in tariff (FIT) payment level declined from April 1.

This rate of installation has been calculated by the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA) as the world’s highest on a per-capita basis, with the JPEA also reporting that domestic PV module demand in the first quarter of 2014 reached 2.77 GW versus 1.95 GW in installations.

Solar’s dominance of Japan’s renewable energy landscape was also laid bare by METI’s statistics, revealing that together, wind, hydro, biomass and geothermal power could muster little over 150 MW of new capacity.