SunPower, Total collaborate on 27 MW Japan solar farm

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Japan’s mega solar market – comprised of large-scale, ground-mounted PV projects – will soon welcome another notable project under its wing following the announcement that U.S. solar company SunPower is to collaborate with French energy giant Total on the creation of a 27 MW PV plant in the country’s ishikawa Prefecture.

This latest development follows last week’s quick-fire flurry of large-scale connections that saw 87 MW of new large-scale solar PV capacity added to the grid. However, despite this surge, experts working within the Japanese solar industry expect the industry to shift wholesale to the rooftop solar sector as policy changes, connection issues and land-space concerns alter the PV landscape.

Total collaborates with SunPower

The 27 MW solar farm announced by the two firms will be backed by a finance loan from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., and construction has already begun on land owned by Ise Group, which is part-financing the $89 million project. Commercial operation is expected to begin in early 2017.

Total’s senior executive in the new energy business, Bernard Clement, said that the firm is eyeing further solar activities in Japan and "throughout the Asia region".

Rooftop set to shine

With the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) recently confirming that Japan’s FIT will reduce by 11% on April 1, it may have been assumed that interest and growth in Japan’s rooftop solar market could slow on the back of the subsidy reduction. However, many experts predict this sector to grow significantly as the government backs more energy-efficient buildings (including new Zero Emission Homes) that will comprise some form of solar power and storage.

RTS’ Izumi Kaizuka told Bloomberg that the Japanese market will shift from mega solar to rooftops, largely because of these policies and a shortage of available land space for large-scale solar. "As the tariff gets further reduced, the market will focus more on how to use solar power on site."