Japan energy reform: Solar ‘close to being profitable’

Solar in Japan reaching profitability
Japan has added 25GW of renewable power to its energy mix since the failure of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011

The government of Japan’s drive to make solar photovoltaic a component of the country’s energy mix appears to be paying off as the country’s renewables watchdog announced this week that solar power is close to being profitable.

The Japan Renewable Energy Foundation reported said the solar PV industry is poised to reach cost-revenue parity and should become profitable before the second half of the year, according to PV magazine.

Tomas Kaberger, executive board chairman of Japan Renewable Energy Foundation, said: “Solar has come of age in Japan and from now on will be replacing imported uranium and fossil fuels.

He added: “In trying to protect their fossil fuel and nuclear plants, Japan’s electric power companies can only delay developments here,” referring to the 10 regional utilities that have dominated Japan’s electricity industry since the 1950s.

Following the Great Eastern Earthquake in March 2011 and the immobilisation of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan has added 25 GW of renewable power, of which solar energy accounts for 80%, said the trade magazine report.

Costs for residential solar power production have more than halved in Japan since 2010, and now stand at below 30 yen/kWh, putting solar close to average household electricity prices.

Solar as part of Japan’s energy reform

The announcement comes as Japan this year begins reform of its electricity system, of which renewable energy will play a part.

At the top end of Japan’s energy planning, the integration of renewable energy, both wind and solar PV, is seen as a vital element of energy security.

The challenge for Japan, according to Yasuhiro Hayashi, professor at the faculty of science and engineering at Waseda University speaking at this year’s World Smart Energy Week in Tokyo, is to maintain the quality of power under a massive integration of PV, aggregating solar volume and improving output suppression.