The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Panasonic Sees Rooftops as Key Market for Solar Power in Japan

Panasonic Sees Rooftops as Key Market for Solar Power in Japan

Panasonic Corp. is targeting rooftops for its solar panels as developers struggle to find big enough plots of affordable land in Japan with the access to transmission lines needed for utility-scale projects.

Japan’s largest consumer-electronics maker, which sold 540 megawatts of solar products in the 2012 fiscal year, wants to increase the volume by 25 percent this year, said Kazuhiro Yoshida, who heads the solar division of the Osaka-based company.

“Rooftops don’t require the purchase of land, and there are transmission lines already available nearby,” he said in an interview in Tokyo today. “Rooftops are going to be more popular.”

Yoshida’s comments follow a debate about how to fix grid congestion issues on Hokkaido island in the north of Japan, one of the few places that does have large plots of inexpensive land. The Panasonic official said homes, apartment buildings and convenience stores have potential forsolar.

Panasonic is forecasting Japan’s solar market may consume as much as 5 gigawatts of solar cells in the year through March 31, making it one of the biggest in the world. Of that, 3.5 gigawatts will be for projects smaller than 50 kilowatts, according to the company, which began developingsolar panels in 1975. One gigawatts equals 1,000 megawatts.

Incentive Program

Japan’s solar market is booming thanks to an incentive program that pays above-market rates for power produced from renewable sources such as the sun and wind. Introduced in July 2012, the program is intended to diversify the country’s energy mix following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The rate for non-residential solar is currently 37.8 yen (38 cents) per kilowatt-hour for 20 years, about three times that of Germany’s. The generous tariff prompted new-entrants such as SoftBank Corp. and Orix Corp. to build utility-scale plants.

Panasonic, whose new manufacturing plant in Malaysia started operations in December, has been consolidating plants overseas. Its Oregon plant ended solar wafer production at the end of June. It continues to make silicon ingots there.

The company plans to close a panel manufacturing plant in Hungary in September, according to Yoshida. It is considering Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia as markets where it could seek more sales, he said.

Japan may add from 6.9 gigawatts to 9.4 gigawatts of solar capacity this year, according to a forecast from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That would make the nation the biggest consumer of solar technology.

The country added 1.98 gigawatts of solar capacity in the 2012 fiscal year and another 1.24 gigawatts in the two months to May 31, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said this week. The ministry has approved 20.9 gigawatts of solar projects by the end of May.

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

Read more solar energy news here.

Lead image: Solar on roof via Shutterstock

RELATED ARTICLES

Clock sky

German Utility's Race for Renewables Seen as Too Little, Too Late

Tino Andresen, Bloomberg

RWE AG, the German utility whose coal-fired plants make it Europe’s largest carbon emitter, officially started the company’s largest renewables project on Thursday: a wind farm in Liverpool Bay off Britain’s coast.

money pile

Deeper Capital Markets for Renewable Energy

Tomas Gardfors and Ann Vesely, Norton Rose Fulbright Following the global financial crisis, a more diversified funding market is developing in Europe. Institutional investors are helping to fill the funding gap left by the contraction in bank lending in the wake of the crisi...
Vatican City

Where Coal Was King, Pope's Climate Warning Faces a Tricky Sell

Alex Nussbaum and Tim Loh, Bloomberg

In West Virginia, where workers have harvested coal seams for centuries, Pope Francis’ new warning about the risks of fossil fuels will find skepticism even among the faithful.

Clean planet

Renewable Energy Responsible for First Ever Carbon Emissions Stabilization

Vince Font, Contributing Editor Carbon emissions in 2014 remained at the previous year’s levels of 32.3 billion metric tons — a milestone that points to the impact worldwide renewable energy investment is having in the face of a 1.5 percent annual increa...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 3
1505REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

SAP for Utilities

The SAP for Utilities conference is the most comprehensive SAP for Utili...

ImagineSolar | Advanced Lab Day: Solar PV Design & Installation (Au...

Advanced Lab Day: System Design & Installation  $195 – 8 ...

ImagineSolar | Advanced Online: Solar PV System Design & NABCEP Exa...

Advanced Online Solar PV System Design & NABCEP Exam Prep $695 &ndas...

COMPANY BLOGS

8 Bad Habits Of Communication

Effective communication is essential in building rapport and closing sal...

The Almost There Markets: Just Give ‘Em Some Time

Earlier this year, we reported on recent legalization of third party fin...

Install Video [Tile Flashing System]: It Doesn’t Get Much Easier Th...

Looking for a fast, easy install on tile roofing?  Give our Ti...

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS