Japan approves feed-in tariff

JAPAN: Japan's government has approved the country's new feed-in-tariff (FIT) rates as the country moves towards renewables in the wake of last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster.

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Industry minister Yukio Edano approved plans set out by a government panel in April. From 1 July, wind energy above 20kW will receive JPY 23.1/kWh ($0.28/kWh) and up to 20kW will receive JPY 57.75/kWh. PPAs will be for 20 years.

There have been mixed feelings about the tariff within Japan's industry.

"My feeling is that there is enough leeway to make profits," said Chuichi Arakawa, a professor in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Tokyo. "New companies might enter the market."

In particular, Arakawa highlights the possibilities for Chinese manufacturers entering the Japanese market.

Other longstanding issues remain unresolved. Access to the grid is guaranteed for the initial three-year period only, and it is unclear whether power companies must accept renewable energy beyond that period.

The FIT legislation forms part of Japan's renewable-energy bill, which was passed in the upper house of parliament last year.

It aims to reduce the country's reliance on nuclear power following the disaster at the Fukushima power plant. The legislation also aims to reduce the country's greenhouse emissions to 25% of its 1990 level by 2020.

The FIT legislation comes as Japan's government and industry is increasingly looking to wind power. Last year, Toshiba acquired part of Korean wind turbine manufacturer Unison and, in March, Hitachi acquired Fuji Heavy Industries wind-power division.

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