Japan aims to spur RE growth

The Japanese government has outlined plans to ramp up investment in renewable power, to separate generation and transmission, and to liberalise electricity sales. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has vowed to increase investment in the total power sector by about 50% from the previous decade’s levels to roughly 30 trillion yen ($299bn) over the next 10 years. 

Abe said the government will invest in clean-energy resources such as wind power, and significantly streamline environmental assessment procedures, which have been blamed for holding back rapid development of onshore wind in the country.

The government will also push forward with efforts to separate electricity distribution from generation, functions currently controlled by utilities.

However, Abe did not reveal the government’s plans for restarting the nation’s nuclear reactors, most of which have been shut down in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. 

In a separate development, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said it will amend regulatory guidelines this fiscal year to permit PV generation owners equipped with storage systems to directly sell electricity to households and industrial users.

Solar generators are currently only allowed to sell to utilities, but METI will change the rules for those that meet the storage provision.

Hideharu Sakota, an official at METI’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, told Recharge that the government is concerned over the “quality of electricity” if private companies with solar panels lack storage, primarily due to output fluctuations. 

Real-estate services provider Mitsui Fudosan prompted the decision to reform the current rules, Sakota says.

It asked the government to allow it to supply surplus power generated by PV panels to buildings in a smart-city project in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo.