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.