According to data released by the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association, sales of solar cells in Japan jumped 342 percent to 1,734 MW in the first quarter of 2013.
Less than a year ago, Japan introduced a feed-in tariff program which stipulates that utilities must buy renewable energy at prices fixed for 20 years. The program, which began in July 2012, is credited for the huge jump in solar energy use this year.
Most (94 percent) of the renewable projects approved since the tariff was introduced have been solar; sellers of solar power receive the most benefit under the system. The tariff rate is over double the rate provided in Germany and China, the world’s leaders in solar.
The feed-in tariff was one of the last legislations from former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, reflecting the nation’s skepticism toward nuclear energy after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
According to IHS research, Japan is set to install $20 billion worth of solar installations this year, up from $11 billion in 2012. That’s an 82 percent annual growth rate, impressive when compared to the global predicted increase of just four percent.
However, part of the reason Japan’s installations will be so high in revenue terms is because solar installations are more expensive in that country.
Japan had a total solar capacity of 7.4 GW in 2012, and that figure is set to double this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.