Feed-in tariffs (FiTs) in Japan for solar PV systems have now been provisionally set by the national Ministry of Energy Trade and Industry (METI) for the next financial year, which begins in April.
The country has been preparing to graduate the market away from the premium-level incentives that started off at more than ¥40 per kWh (US$0.36) in 2013, when the programme was introduced to kick-start the market in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 which resulted damage to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.
The subsequent shuttering of nearly all of Japan’s nuclear generation facilities has left an advanced industrial economy without many natural resources of its own highly dependent on expensive imported fuel.
While this mainly means liquefied natural gas (LNG) - many tanker trucks carrying the fuel are seen on Japan’s roads - and latterly on a turn back to coal generation which is expected to include a dependence on coal imported from Australia.
However, while wind energy has been slow to take off and other options such as geothermal appear a non-starter (despite abundant resources, local pressure means it is unlikely this will ever be popular) solar PV generation in particular is now becoming competitive with grid electricity.
The biggest market dynamic shift within the solar industry is the move away from the much-vaunted ‘mega-solar’, grid-scale projects that created many-gigawatt pipelines of projects, both completed and commissioned, as well as a large number that have gone unbuilt.