Japan’s feed-in tariff (FiT) from 1 April looks almost certain to be set at ¥32/kWh (US$0.32) for commercial customers and at ¥37/kWh (US$0.36) for residential PV system owners. The commercial rate falls by approximately 11% from 2013 levels, while the residential FiT will be cut by just over 2.6%.

The news means 10kW systems or smaller will be paid the ¥32/kWh rate, while the ¥37/kWh rate applies to systems larger than 10kW. Deutsche Bank's research division recently estimated a 10% drop, while Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) had anticipated a cut in the region of 14%.

The new tariff rates are open for a brief period for public comment, after which they are likely to be approved and put in place. The public comment period is only open until 19 March, leaving it unlikely there will be room for any drastic revisions to the prices recommended to the Japanese government by an expert panel.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) this week published details of the panel’s findings and explanations of the factors taken into account. The ministry hosted a public briefing event, limited to just 50 audience members and with no special provisions for press attendance. The tariff committee reiterated the importance of renewable energy in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and pursuing the national goal of reducing 30% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

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