The annual trade show was not particularly well-attended this year, but market sentiment is still positive in Japan – nobody believes that installations will drop due to the coronavirus outbreak. And the country’s upstream industry – modules, batteries, and hydrogen tech – clearly remains compelling, given the number of brave souls who actually did make the trip out to Tokyo Big Sight this year.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has opened a formal investigation into the exact failure mode behind the destruction at the Yamakura Dam floating PV installation. In the end, the ministry seeks to draw up a plan to revamp not just the dam, but also the arrays that are still intact. This is a learning exercise that should be closely followed, as floating PV is enjoying growing popularity.
The tender produced lower bids than previous rounds but again allocated less generation capacity than planned. The Japanese government initially accepted bids for a combined 589.9 MW but ended up assigning only 195.8 MW of capacity. The final average price for procured solar power was $0.1222/kWh.
The Japanese government has issued a policy to reduce 80% of vehicle-related emissions, but high-power charging facilities for e-buses should also be aligned with distributed PV generation. Kyocera is now optimizing its virtual power plant technologies for this use case.
Though we’re unlikely to see a return to the days of double-figure GW annual installation levels, Japan will stay at the top table of solar. Last week, pv magazine visited PV Expo Japan, part of Tokyo’s World Smart Energy Week, and found plenty of market developments to discuss, along with healthy interest from major players.
With the transition to an auction procurement mechanism under way, Japan is this year set to expand the range of projects subject to the tender system from 2 MW-plus to 500 kW and above. With certain FIT cuts for projects with more than 2 MW capacity set to take effect in the second half of the year, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has now proposed reducing tariffs for 10-500 kW commercial PV systems.
A Teikoku Databank report says as many as 95 solar companies went bankrupt last year – seven more than in 2017. The company warns the negative trend that began in 2016 may escalate as FIT reductions for large-scale solar come into effect.