Solar Deployment in Japan

Japan has long been a pioneer in the solar industry — the first commercial solar panels in Japan were manufactured over 30 years ago. The Japanese government was also early to recognize the potential for solar and set up incentives to promote adoption, establishing the Sunshine Project in 1974 to help Japan become less dependent on imported oil.

Japan is the world’s second largest market for solar, behind Germany, and this growth has accelerated largely due to government initiatives and subsidies. The Japanese government will begin implementing a feed-in-tariff in November 2009 —something that has been successful in several European countries, like Germany — to drive demand and foster investment in solar energy. The newly elected Democratic Party of Japan has acknowledged the urgency of curbing climate change and has set forth a proposal to reduce carbon emissions, increase the share of renewables in its energy mix, and provide direct investment in clean energy technology. New Prime Minister Mr. Hatoyama confirmed the goal of a 25% reduction of CO2 emissions against 1990 emission levels by 2020 at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change held in New York on Sept 22.

This aggressive target will enhance the rapidly growing market for solar panels and dramatically increase the number of solar power systems targeted for residential installation in Japan. Based on government estimates, 55 times more solar power generation will be required to meet the carbon emission goals, along with other measures such as more eco-friendly automobiles.

This favorable policy environment is expected to increase domestic demand and is encouraging Japan’s four biggest solar firms — Sharp, Kyocera, Sanyo and Mitsubishi Electric — to further expand and invest billions of dollars to double production over the next few years.

A signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, Japan has been working to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. It already is one of the world’s leaders in the development of new environmentally-friendly technologies and has set a worldwide benchmark for energy efficiency with the lowest energy intensity of any developed economy. With this culture and history of using innovation to overcome great challenges, Japan aims to set global standards in solar adoption.

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