20.91 GW of New Solar Approved in Japan Until May 2013

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).

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

8 thoughts on “20.91 GW of New Solar Approved in Japan Until May 2013

  1. Will there be some information about *where* it will be built ? If too much of it is in Hokkaido, first it won’t be very useful since Hokkaido is not were a lot of power is necessary in summer for air conditioning, second it might overload the grid.
    Because IIRC there’s either no electric connexion between Hokkaido and Honshu, or then a very small capacity one.


    1. Close to ten percent of projects are in Hokkaido, according to this other document published by the Ministry the same day.

      The interconnection problem is not only between Hokkaido and Honshu. Historically, Japan’s electricity sector has been served by monopolistic companies each responsible for some area, and they have little interconnection capacity. The first stage of Masayoshi Son’s “Asia Super Grid” proposal is to build a “Japan Super Grid” connecting the whole country with a long cable in the Japan Sea.


  2. Yes, the amount of approved renewable energy projects are large.

    However, we have analyzed METI’s data, and shown the graphic analysis of FIT approvals here in our blog: http://www.eurotechnology.com/2013/08/24/are-feed-in-tariff-approvals-drying-up/

    Our analysis shows, that actually almost no new projects were approved during February-May 2013, i.e. the approval of new projects had almost dried up.

    I am wondering what the reason for this apparent almost-stop of approval is. Now more land can be found for solar in Japan? or too large back-log of applications at METI? or stricter approval standards?


    1. That’s an interesting development. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer.

      Your first potential reason (land) does make some sense. Japan is densely populated.

      The second potential reason makes less sense. Approving these projects shouldn’t take much work. But it may be exactly right, of course.

      If there are any stricter approval standards, I have not heard of them.


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