PV EXPO Japan 2016 day one: 8 GW market lies ahead

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The sterling growth of Japan’s solar industry may begin to slow this year rather than in 2017, believe many commentators at the PV Expo Japan event that opened today in Tokyo, but the fall away is unlikely to be as steep as some had feared.

On day one of the show, held in conjunction with Japan’s Smart Energy Week, crowds were as busy as last year despite repeated warnings from the industry that difficult times lie ahead for Japan’s solar industry.

Recent changes announced to the country’s energy sector include a 11% reduction to the feed-in tariff (FIT), an end to tax breaks for commercial solar installations, and the introduction of a reverse auction process that is set to seriously alter the landscape of Japanese PV deployment.

These liberalizations of the market had prompted some analysts to forecast something of a goldrush for solar in Japan this year. In February, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reported that it expects Japan to grow by between 13.2 GW and 14.3 GW in 2016.

However, Izumi Kaizuka from RTS Corporation told pv magazine that they expect the market to grow by approximately 8 GW in 2016, echoing projections by Kyocera that forecast a 7.9 GW market for fiscal year (FY) 2017, which begins on April 1.

“For 2017 the market is likely to grow by 7-8 GW and that will gradually shrink over the next few years to a sustainable 3-4 GW market, but this won’t be until about 2020,” Kaizuka said. “By that date, the residential and commercial sectors will be account for about 80% of the market.”

Ichiro Ikeda, the general manager of Kyocera’s marketing division for the corporate solar energy group, presented to pv magazine company data that suggests Japan will end the current fiscal year with 9.8 GW of new solar PV installed, suggesting that the peak will occur at the end of this month, before the slow contraction to 7.9 GW for FY 2017, and an incremental decrease from there on.

“Mega solar projects won’t be feasible so the goal is to ensure that the approved projects are completed.But Kyocera will focus largely now on the residential market, which has a lot of scope to grow, even with the changes to the feed-in tariff.”

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