Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Solar Energy News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Sun setting on Japan's solar energy boom
Chiba, Japan (AFP) Nov 30, 2016

The sun is setting on Japan's clean-energy boom, despite projects like a massive floating solar farm near Tokyo, as the government cuts subsidies and bets on nuclear and coal-fired power, critics say.

Workers at the floating power station, one of the world's biggest, have just finished laying about 50,000 interconnected panels on a vast dam reservoir.

Taking up space equivalent to several Tokyo Dome-sized baseball stadiums, the vast carpet of panels will supply power to about 5,000 homes from early 2018.

The project is the centrepiece of a solar-dominated wave of renewable energy investments that followed the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The accident forced the shutdown of reactors that had supplied about one-quarter of resource-poor Japan's energy.

To plug the gap, electricity providers have been obliged since 2012 to buy power generated from green suppliers, including solar, at above-market rates -- known as feed-in tariffs -- fixed by the government each year.

But renewable energy investments have plateaued and are set to fall in the coming years as Tokyo cuts back subsidies while commodities including coal, oil and natural gas remain cheap.

Japan is also facing a shortage of land for new solar installations.

Kyocera, which is behind the floating farm south of Tokyo, is building a solar plant on an abandoned golf course.

"Several dynamics in the Japanese power sector have shifted since (2012) -- such as weakening government support, cheaper fuel alternatives and electricity sector reform -- which have all contributed to the slowdown in growth," BMI Research said in a report.

- 'Simply insane' -

Some say Japan's future solar potential now sits squarely on the roofs of millions of homes.

"There is still a big potential for the Japanese market," said Atsuhiko Hirano, head of Solar Frontier, a unit of Japanese oil giant Showa Shell.

"Utility-scale projects have been the driver so far. In contrast, the residential market has not grown so much. So there is still much more area where we can grow.

"(But) we are pushing the government to go further."

Solar accounts for a small fraction of Japan's energy mix -- 3.3 percent in 2015. But Tokyo has said it wants renewables -- also including hydro and wind power -- to account for 22 to 24 percent of the total by 2030.

Critical government support appears to be waning, however, as Tokyo drives a push to restart mothballed atomic reactors -- an unpopular move among the nuclear-wary public.

The pro-nuclear drive is supported by utilities, which complained about being forced to buy and distribute subsidised power, especially with oil and natural gas prices at multi-year lows.

Japan is also raising eyebrows with plans to invest billions of dollars at home and abroad in new power plants fired by cheap coal -- even as it calls for more green power at home.

That includes half a dozen large coal-fired power stations within about 100 kilometres (60 miles) of Tokyo, which Greenpeace has branded "simply insane" over health concerns posed by air pollution.

- Energy security -

Coal is also the biggest climate change culprit, generating more carbon pollution per unit of energy generated than oil or gas.

Within the G7 club of rich nations, Japan is alone in investing heavily in coal-fired energy on its own soil, with more than 40 new power plants in the pipeline.

That sets it apart from even big polluters such as China and India which are pushing away from coal-fired power -- although US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to bring back coal and refocus US energy policy on fossil fuels.

"Japan is betting its economy and energy security on risky coal investments," said Taylor Dimsdale, Washington-based head of research at energy think-tank E3G.

"The coal development pipeline in the rest of the G7 countries has dried up with no further plants expected beyond a handful of projects that are already under construction."

Japan was among the worst performers in terms of countries cutting back on energy-related CO2 emissions in an annual ranking released during UN climate talks in November.

Critics say they don't have much hope for Tokyo's long-term commitment to renewable energy.

"After the Fukushima disaster there was an infatuation with renewable energy and the government was clearly pressing the accelerator," said Kimiko Hirata, international director for the Japanese NGO Kiko Network.

"But since then, I feel like it's putting the brakes on that policy and concentrating its focus on revising nuclear power and building new coal-fired power plants."




Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
All About Solar Energy at

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
New fabrication technique leads to broader sunlight absorption in plastic solar cells
Raleigh NC (SPX) Nov 30, 2016
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new strategy for fabricating more efficient plastic solar cells. The work has implications for developing solar cells with a wider absorption range and increased efficiency. As plastic solar cells now rival silicon-based solar cells in power conversion efficiency, researchers want to increase the range of photonic energies that pl ... read more

Investing in the 'bioeconomy' could create jobs and reduce carbon emissions

Argonne researchers study how reflectivity of biofuel crops impacts climate

UNIST researchers turn waste gas into road-ready diesel fuel

NextCoal to produce bio-coal for export to Japan, bio-oil for domestic use

It takes less than a second to tell humans from androids

Designing Agile Human-Machine Teams

Nylon fibers made to flex like muscles

Researchers create living bio-hybrid system

Owl-inspired wing design reduces wind turbine noise by 10 decibels

DONG Energy sets wind energy sights on Taiwan

Interior set to rule on future of BLM's Renewable Energy Program

Microsoft Corp. taps deeper into wind power

Car manufacturers to juice Europe with e-charging network

Could moving walkways be the key to car-free cities of the future?

Five things to know about VW's 'dieselgate' scandal

How much attention do drivers need to pay

Physicists spell 'AV' by manipulating Abrikosov vortices

Hydrogen in your pocket? New plastic for carrying and storing hydrogen

Glow-in-the-dark dye could fuel liquid-based batteries

Researchers report new thermoelectric material with high power factors

'Diamond-age' of power generation as nuclear batteries developed

Nuclear energy: who's advancing and who's retreating

Swiss reject speedy nuclear phaseout

Breakthrough offers greater understanding of safe radioactive waste disposal

China power plant collapse kills at least 22: Xinhua

Climate: Four nations map course to carbon-free economies

Study: LED lights draw fewer insects

Shifting focus leaves mixed bag for German utility RWE

Scientists say North should commit to pay for forest conservation in South

Tribal protesters with arrows try to enter Brazil's Congress

Remote Amazon tribe kills illegal gold miners: officials

Large forest die-offs can have effects that ricochet to distant ecosystems

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement