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Asia Report: Japan Enters Renewable Era With Major Developments

Japan officially flipped the switch on its feed-in tariff over the weekend, and several new projects were there to take advantage of a suddenly hot new market. A handful of developments timed their start to this past weekend when the generous FiT went live.

The chief architect behind Japan’s strong push to build large-scale solar plants remains Softbank’s Masayoshi Son, who held a ceremony for the opening of the 2.1-megawatt (MW) SoftBank Kyoto Solar Park in Kyoto City. Son also used the event to announce more large-scale projects in the Kumamoto, Nagasaki, and Shimane prefectures.

“From this point on, we are going to spread natural energy throughout Japan,” he said.

The shift toward solar came on the same weekend that engineers began re-firing a nuclear reactor, despite a run-up of protests across the nation, which is still reeling from the Fukushima crisis and the ensuing energy shortages left by the shutdown reactors.


IN THE NEWS

Hanwha May Buy Q-Cells: South Korean group Hanwha may buy insolvent German solar group Q-Cells, once the world's largest maker of solar cells, a spokesman for Hanwha Corp said on Friday.

Japan Investments May Double: Renewable energy investments in Japan may double as companies from mobile phone provider Softbank Corp. to battery maker GS Yuasa Corp. take advantage of government payment incentives beginning July 1.

Indian, Chinese Companies Enter Partnership: Anil Ambani's Reliance Group has entered into a strategic partnership with Chinese wind turbine maker China Ming Yang Wind Power Group for developing up to 2,500 MW of clean energy projects in India as well as other South Asian countries.

Solar- and Battery-Powered Ship: Mitsui OSK, a transport company in Japan, has completed building a hybrid ship that is capable of ferrying cars. Built at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in Kobe, the ‘Emerald Ace’ generates zero emissions while it is docked. The ship’s on-board power comes from a hybrid electric system that uses both solar power and batteries.


FOCUS ON CHINA

China Quadruples 2015 Solar Target: China, the biggest supplier of solar power panels, quadrupled a domestic installation goal for sun-derived energy projects to 21 gigawatts by 2015 to help absorb excess supply of panels and support prices.

China’s Himin Solar Pulls IPO: The upcoming Shanghai IPO of Himin Solar, one of China's largest solar water heater companies, has been suspended by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and the company has been placed on a list of enterprises whose IPO evaluation procedure "has been terminated." Chinese news reports speculate that the reason for the IPO's abrupt cancellation is Himin's involvement in a Shandong province corruption scandal which has already claimed the scalp of one of its leading politicians.

Solar Projects Emerge in Xinjiang Region: The government of Bole city, Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, China recently signed an agreement with Hubei-based JCS Solar for a 6 billion yuan (US$948 million) photovoltaic project to be located next to the area's Sayram Lake. Construction of the 13 million square-meter facility is expected to take three years. Phase I of the project is expected to yield 30-MW of capacity and connect to the grid when completed by the end of October.

Solar Thermal Scales New Heights in China: Ask any six-year-old in a Chinese street, 'What's a solar water heater and what's it for?' Without hesitation they will tell you: 'A solar water heater is on the roof of a building to make hot water for the shower.' This story is told by Hongzhi Cheng, vice secretary-general of the Beijing-based Chinese Solar Thermal Industry Federation (CSTIF) and head of The Sun's Vision, a company based in the city of Dezhou in Shandong province.

LDK’s Post Steep Loss Amid Mounting Industry Pressure: China's LDK Solar, a producer of polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules, has reported a steep quarterly loss that underscores the dramatic industry-wide shift that has occurred in the past year.

China’s First Wind Lull Limits Outlook for Sinovel: China, the world's biggest builder of wind farms, is set for its first year of slower growth in almost a decade as plans flounder for expanding offshore, hurting domestic turbine makers such as Sinovel Wind Group Co.

China Invests $900 million in Chile Solar Project: Chinese solar developer Sky Solar has signed a $900 million deal with China’s development bank and a Chilean conglomerate to construct a solar project in Chile.

Malaysia’s Biomass Potential: Malaysia needs to introduce a national policy on biomass to make the sector more attractive, an industry player said.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

South Korea’s Wind Investment

“A remarkable industry trend to note is the largest shipbuilders such as Hundai Heavy Industry, Samsung Heavy Industry, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering and STX shipbuilding are now fully concentrated on the offshore wind orientated business industry.”

Dr. Rim-taig Lee, Chairman of Korea Wind Energy Industry Association


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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

June 18-25, 2012 Asia Report: Toshiba Plans Japan’s Largest PV Plant
June 11-18, 2012 Asia Report: U.K.-Korea Unite Behind Offshore, Tidal Potential
June 4-11, 2012 Asia Report: As EU Trade Case Looms, Market May Shift East
May 21-29, 2012 Asia Report: China’s Solar Giants Unite to Confront Tariff
May 14-21, 2012 Asia Report: Solar Stocks Tumble After Solar Ruling
May 7-14, 2012 Asia Report: Solar Dumping Announcement Set for May 17
May 1-7, 2012 Asia Report: European Ruling Could Cut Into Palm Oil Exports
April 23-30, 2012 Asia Report: U.S., India Strike $125 Million Investment Deal
April 16-23, 2012 Asia Report: Japan Solar FiT Likely In Line With Industry Request
April 9-16, 2012 Asia Report: Are China’s Sinovel, Goldwind Seeking Vestas Takeover
April 2-9, 2012 Asia Report: 200-MW Solar Project Planned in Japan

Lead image: Shovel via Shutterstock.

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