Archive for the 'Japanese energy law' category

Amory Lovins on Renewable in Japan and Germany

Jul 09 2014 Published by under Japanese energy law

Blog post at the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Short version: Renewable in Japan compares to Germany like Japan’s soccer team to Germany’s. Only one of them is in the finals.

The good news for Japan is that it actually has the best renewable resources of all industrialized countries, as I learned from this article, with nine times Germany’s resources.

All it takes is some policy changes to unleash renewable power here as well.

No responses yet

33.2 GW Of New Renewable In Japan

Apr 19 2014 Published by under Japanese energy law

The Japanese Economics Ministry has released figures on the state of play on renewable energy in Japan under the new feed-in tariff. Some of it is good news. Thanks to this Tweet by Hiro Matsubara for the link.

The Japanese feed-in tariff system expects people to get a recognition (認定) before actually building capacity. That means there are two numbers to report. One is the amount of capacity that has received a recognition. The other one is the number of projects that actually have started delivering electricity.

The former number is substantially larger than the latter. The Ministry reports a total of 33.2 GW of installations that have received recognition. Most of that comes from solar, which is at about 31 GW in all. And most of that is from large-scale installations over 10 kW (28.7 GW), with projects over one MW contributing 16 GW.

In contrast, wind projects are still very weak. There are only about 0.97 GW of wind projects in the pipeline that have received recognition.

The capacity that has started delivering electricity in the 17 months since the feed-in tariff is in place is about 7.6 GW, with almost all of that (7.41 GW) coming from solar. 5.741 GW of that is non-residential solar.

That compares to an installed base of about 5.6 GW of solar before July 2012.

Wind is in very bad shape for the capacity that has started delivering. It is at only 0.074 GW over the 17 months, with a falling trend.

And Japan, with its great geothermal resources, has managed to deliver 0.001 GW of new geothermal from July 2012 to March 2013, and nothing in the time after that until January 2014.

So the good news is that solar is in good shape in Japan. But for everything else the feed-in tariff system has still completely failed to deliver any significant results.

No responses yet

Setting Prices for FIT Solar Projects in Japan

Dec 16 2013 Published by under Japanese energy law

The Japanese publication “Tech-On” is doing a series of articles about megasolar projects. Installment seven is an interview with Head of Renewable Energy Department Murakami at the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry . Thanks to this tweet by Hiromichi Matsubara for the link.

One thing we learn from this interview is that there have been already megasolar projects totaling over 20 GW approved by the Ministry. This is far exceeding expectations.

The problem on the other hand is that the Japanese system sets the FIT price for a project at the time of the Ministry approval. Only about 20 percent of those 20 GW approved have already started actually producing electricity. And there are many projects out there that have gotten approval at the high rate of 42 yen per kWh and are only now starting to actually build their solar parks at already lowered costs.

This is different from the German system, where everyone gets the feed-in tariff in place at the time they actually start delivering. I think that approach is superior. Murakami says they are now in the process of checking all projects that are unfinished. Those that are making insufficient progress will see their approvals revoked.

This way of handling things means that projects approved at the higher feed-in tariff last year now are on the same market for solar panels and installation work as projects approved more recently at a lower tariff, which obviously distorts the competition between these two groups of solar project companies.

One could avoid these problems by just paying the rate at the completion of the project, as in the German model.

The Japanese way of handling things also leads to confusion. 20 GW of solar approved since the start of the feed-in tariff in July last year sounds very good, until you hear that only 20 percent of that is actually already built.

I was also rather surprised to learn that one utility quoted a time frame of two years for building a power line over a distance of a couple of meters. Murakami also pointed out that many of the companies building megasolar projects are lacking in basic knowledge about how grid connections work. Studying these questions some more may help avoid answers like the one quoted above.

No responses yet

Interview With Softbank Energy Vice President Hiroaki Fujii

Dec 15 2013 Published by under Japanese energy law

The Japanese publication “Tech-On” is doing a series of articles about megasolar projects. Installment six is an interview with Softbank Energy Vice President Hiroaki Fujii. Thanks to this tweet by Hiromichi Matsubara for the link.

Fujii sees three problems right now.

For one, most of the costs of a megasolar project in Japan are from installation and grid connection. That in turn means that further reductions in cost of solar panels won’t necessarily lead to lower costs per kWh. Which may mean that it becomes harder to justify feed-in tariffs for solar energy than in Germany, where solar costs have gone down and feed-in tariffs with them.

One other problem is the lack of good locations for projects. They must have good insolation and must be close enough to the grid. The best locations will be taken first, which leaves less desirable locations for later. That in turn will be a factor leading to increased costs for later projects.

And the most serious problem is a lack of grid infrastructure. Softbank Energy has cancelled about half of their projects because they could not get them connected to the grid. That is especially a problem in Hokkaido, which has excellent resources but only weak grid infrastructure.

He also pointed out a lack of long-term vision. It is already more than two years since the Japanese feed-in tariff law was passed, but there are still no official targets for the development of solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources.

No responses yet

Good News for the Japanese Solar Panel Industry

Nov 26 2013 Published by under Japanese energy law

Japanese solar panel makers are increasing production, as a consequence of the boom in solar installations in Japan caused by the new feed-in tariff law. See this article at Nikkei. Thanks to this tweet by Chris Nelder for the link.

Sharp wants to increase production to 1.8 GW, which means an increase of 36% in a year, and an all-time high. Kyocera plans to supply 1.2 GW, up 50%. And Panasonic is exceeding the pace of its estimate, which was 0.675 GW for the year (a 25% increase).

That’s good news. And it shows that a very high feed-in tariff for solar at 38 Yen per kWh will help the domestic solar industry.

I would still hesitate to invest in these Japanese companies. In the short term their prospects are good. But in the mid and long term, I expect them to lose against the Chinese makers, just as the German solar panel industry has lost against China.

I still think that it is a very risky idea to invest in solar panel makers in the first place. But if one considers doing so, Yingli Green would be what I recommend (see my “List of Global Warming Stocks”).



No responses yet

Japan’s Performance “Very Poor” in the 2014 Climate Change Performance Index

Nov 20 2013 Published by under Japanese energy law

German Watch has published the 2014 “Climate Change Performance Index”, and Japan’s score is “very poor”. Thanks to this tweet by Volker Quaschning for the link.

The index has several categories: Emissions (30 percent of points), emission reductions (30 percent), efficiency (10 percent), renewable energy (10 percent), and climate policy (20 percent).

Japan scores “very poor” in emissions level, “moderate” in emission reductions (probably before the recent announcement of a 3.1 increase goal for 2020 compared to 1990, “very poor” in renewable energy, “poor” in efficiency, and “very poor” in climate policy. That gives Japan a “very poor” rank of number 50 in the list. This is down several places from last year’s rank of number 46.

For the ten countries with the largest emissions, Japan is at rank number six, still beating Korea, the Russian Federation, and Canada.

2 responses so far

Great Japanese Success

Nov 16 2013 Published by under Global meltdown, Japanese energy law

The Climate Action Tracker report on Japan’s latest policy discussed in the last post titled “Great Japanese Failure” gives some background on climate finance contributions on page 4.

For one, Japan has pledged funding of $16 billion (a whopping $2.28 per World capita) in financing up to 2015. That comes on top of $16.9 billion in the “fast start finance” period from 2010 to 2012, which leaves Japan way at the top of the list, with a contribution rate of 42.6 percent, followed by the EU at 24.7 percent.

Japan, one country, has contributed about double of the whole EU to the financial effort.

That’s a Great Success, and Japan can be proud of being the World’s top country, by far, in the category of financial contributions.

One response so far

Great Japanese Failure

Nov 16 2013 Published by under Global meltdown, Japanese energy law

The Japanese government has decided to replace the previous 2020 target of 25 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 with a target of a 3.1 percent increase.

This is the official document (in Japanese). Thanks to commentary at Kikonet here for the link.

Adding insult to injury, the Japanese government tries to mask this by selling it as “3.8 percent reduction compared to 2005″.

Do they think people are so stupid as not to look through this childish attempt at deception?

The official document says this is a very ambitious goal (野心的).

It is. I must admit that. It sure is.

That is, if your ambition is to show that Japan is the World’s worst country when dealing with climate change.

The official document also says that this revision is not counting any nuclear energy available in 2020. This makes sense at first glance. With all those nuclear reactors quietly gathering dust and fossil fuel getting burned instead, one would expect that it becomes more difficult to reach the previous 25 percent goal.

However, as this analysis by Climate Action Tracker points out, even a total nuclear shutdown by 2020 would only account for about 8 percent of the reduction to the new “ambitious” (haha) goal of plus 3.1 percent (a total movement in the wrong direction of 28.1 percent). Thanks to this Tweet by Kees van der Leun for the link.

Fortunately the document also says that the government is ready to reconsider. This part is important, so I cite it in full and provide a translation:


This target is set at the present time assuming no contribution to greenhouse gas emission reductions from nuclear energy, while Japan is in the process of debating energy policy (including nuclear energy) and the energy mix.


We will fix a definite target later on, considering the progress of the discussion of energy policy and the energy mix.

This is not the last word. And it better not be.

I recall that Typhoon Hayan just hit the Philippines, causing catastrophic disaster. Japan could be next.

This lame response of the Japanese government is not what we need right now. The Climate Action Tracker report cited above gives Japan a failing degree of “inadequate”, and I agree completely with that assessment.

Related Post: Great Japanese Success

4 responses so far

20.91 GW of New Solar Approved in Japan Until May 2013

Aug 20 2013 Published by under Japanese energy law

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Trade just published figures for renewable energy under the new feed-in tariff law in force since last July. Thanks to this tweet by Hiro Matsubara for the link.

To state the result in very short terms, wind is struggling even with the very high tariffs in place, and solar is headed for the “rocket start” former Prime Minister Noda called for last October.

The Japanese figures come in two flavors. One set is for installations that have started producing electricity, and the other one is for installations that have received approval from the Ministry. The latter one is the higher one, it includes capacity that will come online shortly, but is not yet commissioned.

Using those latter figures, solar recorded 20.91 GW until May, up from 12.2 GW until February. That’s not bad, considering that Japan had only about 5.3 GW of solar installed at the end of 2011. Adjusting for the larger population of Japan this is comparable to the German records of the last couple of years. Not bad at all.

On the other hand, the rocket for wind energy is still firmly planted on the ground. The Ministry reports a measly anemic 0.8 GW of approved capacity. The problem with wind is, you need much more time from starting a project to getting it to the approval stage. Anyway, it will take some time for wind to get up to speed  in Japan. The numbers are still very disappointing.

(This post is a mainly unchanged repost of “12.2 GW of New Solar Approved Until February in Japan” published in May, with only the new numbers plugged in).

8 responses so far

Japan as Number One

Jun 05 2013 Published by under Japanese energy law

Bloomberg says that Japan will take over from Germany as the World’s largest market for solar this year. They expect between 6.9 to 9.4 GW over the year.

It will still be a close contest with China for the top spot. Again, according to the Bloomberg article, China will be between 6.3 and 9.3 GW.

While I would not approve of Japan winning against Germany in the FIFA World Cup (congratulations to Japan for qualifying for Brazil 2014 yesterday), I think it is great news to see them beat Germany in solar installation records.

One thing we can learn from that is that feed-in tariffs work to get things done. This new development of course happened because Japan finally put a feed-in tariff system into place from last July on, with rather attractive rates starting out.

One other thing we can learn is that solar can be deployed very fast, so as to take advantage of these new feed-in tariffs. In contrast, wind is still failing to react to the new favorable environment. It just takes much longer for a wind project to jump all the regulatory hurdles.

No responses yet

Older posts »