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 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 0.6 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.
The new solar capacity is spread rather evenly all over the country. The interesting thing is that the biggest chunk is located in Hokkaido, the most northern island. It certainly does not have the best solar resources. But I assume it is easier to find the land for megasolar projects there. Hokkaido has about 1.13 GW, with 0.97 of that coming from projects with over 1 MW capacity.