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Japan government approves plan to launch solar auctions by early 2017

The Japanese government has approved a number of changes to the country’s incentive programme for renewable-energy development, including the introduction of tenders for solar projects.

Pending parliamentary approval, the legislative revisions approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet will likely go into effect on 1 April 2017, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said today.

METI described the changes as “necessary,” adding that the reforms were partly precipitated by complaints by a number of regional utilities — most notably, Kyushu Electric Power — that the rapid development of solar projects posed a threat to grid stability.

The review of the nation’s feed-in tariff (FIT) system, which METI has been mulling for the past year, could dramatically reshape investment in Japanese renewables such as solar and wind.

In particular, a new system under which solar projects would be auctioned off to prospective developers appears to be primarily intended to balance out the explosive development of the nation’s PV market since the introduction of the FIT scheme in July 2012.

METI, which oversees the FIT programme, wants to encourage the development of a more diverse range of renewables.

Under the new rules, the ministry said it will also change the way it certifies projects for development, without elaborating.

Under the Basic Energy Plan unveiled last summer, the Japanese authorities have said that renewables will account for 22% to 24% of the national energy mix by 2030.

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