Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Solar Country Notes
As one of the 19 member countries of the Implementing Agreement on Photovoltaic Power Systems (IEA-PVPS) Japan had the highest installed PV capacity (636.8 MWp) at end-2002, when it was more than double that of the next highest country, Germany. In three years, however, Germany managed to overtake Japan, and by end-2005 was 7MWp higher than Japan.
Of Japan's 1 421.9 MWp total capacity, 1.1 MWp was for the off-grid domestic market, 85.9 MWp for off-grid non-domestic, 1 332.0 MWp for grid-connected distributed and 2.9 MWp for grid-connected centralised.
The 1997 New Energy Law led to The Total Primary Energy Supply Outlook in 1998 which specified that the target for installed PV was to be 5 000 MW by FY2010. In 2001 this target was reduced to 4 820 MW. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is charged with promoting the measures necessary to achieve this target. The 'Renewable Portfolio Standard' Law introduced during 2002 requires energy suppliers to use a certain percentage of renewable energy.
In addition to the main demonstration programmes ('PV Field Test for Industrial Use' and 'Demonstrative Development of Centralised Grid-Connected PV Systems') both started in FY2002, METI also began in FY2002, three implementation programmes ('Residential PV System Dissemination Programme', 'Introduction and Promotion of New Energy at the Regional Level' and 'Financial Support for Entrepreneurs Introducing New Energy').
The Residential PV System Dissemination Programme granted subsidies to private purchasers of PV installations, providing that they recorded and reported the operational data of their system. At the end of FY2004, the cumulative capacity of the 217 000 residential PV systems installed under this programme amounted to 795 MWp. Nearly 40 000 applications were accepted in 2005, for a total capacity of 155.7 MWp. By October 2005 the budget for FY2005 had become exhausted, resulting in the scheme's termination.
It was anticipated in 2006 that some 70 000 residential PV systems would be installed during the year and that the total of incremental PV capacity in all applications could reach around 350 MWp. In Japan, most PV installations are on residential property. About 80% of residential systems have been installed on existing houses and 20% on new properties. One commentator has remarked on the fact that, although fully roof-integrated PV systems are readily available, the number of such installations is quite small, and suggests that purchasers prefer to display their green credentials by opting for panels rather than the less noticeable tiles.
The majority of PV installations are likely to continue to take place in the residential sector, at a rate of between 100 000 and 200 000 (400-800 MWp) per annum. The number of larger installations on public buildings and industrial property is expected to increase, whilst further applications may be developed in transport and agriculture.
Off-grid non-domestic PV systems are being deployed for use in telecommunications, traffic signs, telemetering, ventilation and lighting.
The production and deployment of solar hot water systems began more than 50 years ago and the market developed during the ensuing three decades. The oil crises of the 1970s fostered further growth but in the late 1990s stagnation set in, not least because of the Government's termination of low-interest loans. In a survey published in April 2003, ESTIF (European Solar Thermal Industry Federation) estimated that 7.360 million m2 of glazed collectors were in operation in Japan at the end of 2001, of which 7.219 million m2 were flat-plate collectors and 0.141 million m2 were vacuum collectors.