Japan’s solar energy growth
Solar energy is gaining momentum around the world, especially in Japan, where the solar market is experiencing a period of rapid growth. Japan has long been interested in alternative energy because of its economic and environmental implications. The country is home to one of the most ambitious and powerful hydrogen energy systems, the ENE-FARM, and has been using geothermal energy for decades. Solar power is not new to the Land of the Rising Sun, but it has been growing in popularity over the past year. The Kyocera Solar Corporation, a leading manufacturer of solar panels, has released information concerning the growth of the solar industry.
In 2009, Japan sought to revitalize a subsidy program to boost the residential solar power industry. The government instituted a feed-in tariff for those installing solar panels on their homes and properties. Kyocera Solar claims that from the beginning of the plan in 2009 until March 2012, more than 1 million Japanese homes have installed solar panels and are selling excess energy to utilities companies. Kyocera expects the rate of installation to increase by at least 12% each year for the foreseeable future.
Support for alternative energy has been booming throughout the country. Much of this support was sparked by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis of March 2011. The Japanese government chose to pursue alternatives to nuclear power in light of the catatstrophe, which threatened the health and safety of millions of Japanese citizens. Since that time, much of the government’s focus in terms of energy has been concentrated on hydrogen, geothermal and solar power. The government is looking to make solar power even more viable and attractive to citizens by revamping its feed-in tariff program.
The new feed-in tariff plan is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2012. According to the plan, the Japanese government will not only buy excess energy generated through renewable means, but all energy from solar installations that exceeds a 10 kilowatt standard. This is expected to add further momentum to the growing solar energy industry by increasing the demand for residential solar panels. The government also believes it will help solve some of the economic problems the country has been facing since the 2011 earthquake.