New Hampshire, U.S.A. — It’s been a year of slow, deliberate debate as Japan plots its future without nuclear power. That future will gain some clarity later this month when a panel charged with recommending Feed-in Tariffs (FiT) for solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydropower sends those rate proposals for approval.
According to Japanese business daily news organization Nikkei, the panel is likely to recommend a FiT of 42 yen (51 cents) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar generation, a figure about twice as high as the rate currently paid by consumers and about in line with what the Japanese photovoltaic industry had requested. The recommended rate would be paid for 20 years, according to Nikkei. The Japan Wind Power Association has asked for a rate of 25 yen per kWh over 20 years.
Each rate will need government approval before going into effect on July 1.
Major Closures for SunPower and First Solar: Two major American solar manufacturers announced that they are scaling back efforts in Asia. SunPower is closing a facility in the Philippines while First Solar is idling four of its 24 production lines at its Malaysia plant.
China Developer Looks to GE: Long Yuan, China’s largest wind developer, has decided to use GE turbines for a 100 megawatt wind farm in Canada.
China, Iceland Talk Geothermal Energy: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao heads to Iceland where he toured one of the country’s geothermal power plants and signed a cooperative agreement centered on the underground energy source.
India Powers Up World’s Largest Solar Plant: The West Indian state of Gujarat has flicked the switch on the first phase of the world’s largest solar power field, supplying 214 MW of solar energy into India’s struggling power grid.
Clean Energy Investment: According to the just-released report “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?” from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the United States invested the most in clean energy of any country in 2011, retaking the lead from China, which had held the top spot for the last two years. But the U.S. resurgence is more likely to be a blip than a trend.
How Chinese Panels Are Impacting European Market: In recent years, the global price of PV modules has undergone a rapid and sustained period of decline. In light of scaled back policy in key markets and recent bankruptcy announcements, the questions remain: How exactly is Chinese PV module pricing affecting the European market? And how best should European governments and solar companies react?
Challenges of Hydro Tunnelling in India: With a great deal of tunnelling work underway at hydroelectric projects in India, the lessons learned by developers of the 192 MW Allain Duhangan project can prove valuable for other companies.
Dam-Building Dispute Roil Asia: Dam building on shared rivers has emerged as the leading source of water disputes and tensions in Asia, the world’s driest continent whose freshwater availability is less than half the global annual average per inhabitant.
Asia will continue to be the world’s largest market, although with a slower growth rate than over the past five years. China has entered a consolidation phase, and most of the growth in the region over the next five years will be in India. Having achieved a 3 GW market for the first time in 2011, we expect the Indian annual market to reach 5 GW by 2015, and how much further it can grow from there will be dependent upon continued economic growth, improvements in grid infrastructure and management and a clear national policy framework for the power sector.
The future of Japan’s energy system is still up for grabs, but the overwhelming majority of the public wants to see a future where renewables replace all or most of the existing nuclear power plants as soon as possible; and the government is heavily pushing offshore wind development. So we expect some growth in Japan over the next five years, but anticipate that it will get larger towards the end of the period. Korea seems set to develop a major offshore wind industry, but how quickly and how much that will be complemented by increased exploitation of its onshore resources remains to be seen, which is why we are also cautious about Korea over the next five years, although we expect the numbers to start to grow substantially toward the latter part of this decade.
Mongolia gets its first commercial wind farm in 2012, and has tremendous potential, as do Viet Nam and the Philippines; although we don’t expect major installations in any of these markets before 2016.
We expect Asia to install 118 GW between now and 2016, far more than any other region, and to surpass Europe as the world leader in cumulative installed capacity sometime during 2013, ending the period with about 200 GW in total.
“Vestas has one of the most developed technology platforms and a truly global distribution network. You’re getting the asset right now for a very low price. You could have several industry players looking at the company.”
— Kasper Larsen, analyst at Danske, on why China companies continue to look at the Danish turbine maker
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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
March 26-April 2, 2012 Asia Report: India Slashes Wind Incentive
March 19-26, 2012 Asia Report: India’s Wind Potential 30 Times Greater Than Believed
March 5-12, 2012 Asia Report: After Quake, Japan Pushes for Asia Supergrid
Feb. 27-March 5, 2012 Asia Report: Decision on Trade Dispute Looming
Feb. 20-27, 2012 Asia Report: China Launches Renewable Energy Think Tank
Feb 6-13, 2012 Asia Report: India Sees 52 Percent Rise in Investments
Jan. 23-30, 2012 Asia Report: DOC Extends Solar Trade Case Deadline