Japan PV shipments jump in Q2

Shipments of PV cells and modules within Japan jumped to roughly 2.07GW in the three months to the end of September, from just 626.9MW a year earlier, as demand continued to soar under the nation’s generous feed-in tariff (FIT) for renewable energy.

The biggest change over the past year has been the shift from residential projects to the development of utility-scale PV plants, according to statistics from the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA).

A total of 1.53GW of PV modules were shipped to developers of non-residential projects this year, compared to 539.9MW shipped for residential installations. In the second quarter of 2012, residential demand accounted for 446.4MW of PV module deliveries, versus just 179.9MW for non-residential projects.

Exports of PV kit fell from 153.06MW in the second quarter of 2012 to just 52.8MW this year, further underscoring the rapid growth of Japan's domestic solar industry since the July 2012 introduction of the FIT, according to JPEA data.

In April, the Japanese government reduced the FIT for solar to ¥37.8 ($0.40) per kWh from ¥42 over 20 years, but left its rates unchanged for other renewable resources, including wind.

Multicrystalline PV modules continued to dominate domestic shipments this year, jumping to 1.2GW in the three months to the end of September from 334.8MW in the second quarter of 2012. Monocrystalline modules accounted for 677.7MW of domestic shipments in the second quarter of this year, while deliveries of thin-film PV panels reached 226.1MW.

The JPEA statistics were based on data from 42 firms, including Japanese companies such as Panasonic, Toshiba and Kyocera, as well as non-Japanese players such as Canadian Solar, Yingli Green Energy and Hanwha Q-Cells.

In October, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said that the nation installed about 3.5GW of solar capacity in the 12 months from July 2012.