Exclusive: Japan considering FiT cancellation for unbuilt PV projects

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

Sanctions including the withdrawal of feed-in tariff (FiT) certification are being considered by the Japanese government for PV projects that have been approved under the country’s FiT but remain unbuilt, PV Tech has learned.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has launched an investigation into why only around 10% of large-scale PV projects approved under the FiT have so far been connected to the grid system.

A survey expected to last around a month was launched on 22 September examining projects larger than 400kW capacity. METI said the investigation was a “fact-finding” survey to establish why such a small proportion of approved projects had been completed.

Various reasons have been cited for the lack of movement, including grid connection problems – Japan has a regionally demarcated grid system, with 10 different companies responsible for the grid in different areas. Hokkaido, the largest of the island territories to the north of Japan where land is in relatively abundant supply, is unable to connect more than about one in four approved projects to the grid due to connection problems and oversupply.

But METI suspects other factors are at play, including developers deliberately delaying projects in the hope that equipment costs will come down.

Speaking to PV Tech, Takashi Kitamura of the New Energy Policy Division at METI’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy Conservation and New Energy Department, acknowledged that a large number of projects remained unbuilt.

Explaining that because once a project has been approved by the government and then by the utility company responsible for the corresponding section of grid, developers must then evaluate their own costs before breaking ground, Kitamura said it was possible that companies may then decide to wait on falling equipment prices before beginning construction, in order to improve profit margins.

Kitamura also said he had heard anecdotal, but as-yet unsubstantiated rumours, that some companies may be brokering deals to effectively subcontract projects out to smaller developers.

Describing the current investigation as a “fact-finding survey”, Kitamura said METI would consider what measures should be taken once the survey was completed. It is scheduled to finish on 18 October. The survey would be taking into account the situation of each company involved in project development and asking each for details including the state of finances, he said.

PV Tech understands that the survey will seek to define the status of individual projects and the willingness of developers to give up unbuilt projects.

Those developers that are unwilling to give up projects but have not yet started building them will be asked to report on when they plan to begin construction.

They will also have to provide documentation proving they have ordered components and evidence of land purchase or lease agreements. Until December 2012 a project could receive approval without land purchase or lease agreements, and this is thought to be another possible factor behind the high number of unbuilt projects.

But it appears that METI is keen to not rush to judgement. Kitamura said the survey may find that some companies had simply run out of resources or were otherwise unable to finish projects in unfortunate circumstances despite the will to continue.

However if it was the case that projects were intentionally delayed or corruption had taken place, Kitamura said METI would then have no choice but to consider what measures were to be taken. 

While he stressed that METI would not announce or consider enacting any possible punitive measures until survey data was collated, if it was found to be beyond doubt that developers or investors were intentionally stalling on projects, various sanctions could be considered.

This could ultimately include revoking certification given under the FiT scheme, although again Kitamura was at pains to emphasise that the outcome would depend on the full results of the survey.

Additional reporting by Ben Willis.

19 August 2021
The utility-scale PV market is poised for exponential growth and yet the industry still has many fundamental opportunities to improve on standards and best practice. Tracker shade loss has been one of those topics that deserve more attention, but has been typically handled by derate factors rather than trying to accurately forecast the loss over the life of the system. Join Nextracker’s subject matter experts, Aron Dobos and Neelesh Umachandran, and Rounak Kharait, director of solar energy assessments at DNV, for a webinar about why shade modeling matters and recommendations on what the solar industry should do about it.
25 August 2021
Energy Next is a new industry exhibition focusing on the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, which will be held for the first time in 2021 in Sydney, Australia alongside the Clean Energy Council’s Australian Clean Energy Summit, the peak gathering of leaders driving Australia's energy transformation. Organised by the same people behind Australia’s largest clean energy event, All-Energy Australia, Energy Next will give visitors two days of access to key suppliers in the industry, free-to-attend professional development and industry workshops, and networking opportunities to better understand clean energy issues and solutions and learn about the latest developments in this transformational, dynamic sector.
25 August 2021
The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste takes place in Fortaleza, Brazil. It addresses leading local and international experts on solar power and renewable energy in the region. The Summit’s mission is to provide in-depth education, enable high-quality networking opportunities, expand the use of PV technologies at regional and national level and strengthen the local PV industry. The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste is organized by Intersolar South America - Latin America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry: Solar Promotion International GmbH, Pforzheim, Freiburg Management and Marketing International GmbH (FMMI) and Aranda Eventos & Congressos Ltda, São Paulo as co-organizer.
25 August 2021
Join us to hear directly from the CTOs and heads-of-research from the top-20 cell/wafer producers to the PV industry today. The event will focus on predicting the key metrics underpinning the next big shift to n-type with answers to the key questions: When will the transition to n-type happen? Which companies will be first to 10 GW capacity and production? Who will be the key equipment suppliers for the new production lines? Which n-type process flow/architecture will emerge as the front-runner? What will polysilicon purity and wafer thickness levels look like for optimized n-type manufacturing? What will the upstream poly/wafer supply-chain look like in 5 years from now?
26 August 2021
In this webinar, JA Solar will present its product portfolio based on the latest technologies to improve your PV projects, ensuring maximum reliability and performance. During the webinar we will receive insight from JA Solar about its solar technology roadmap and how the manufacturer is providing customers with innovative solutions to suit their needs, while we will also analyse how to determine the best product solution for each solar project.
6 September 2021
The 38th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition will be held online from 6 - 10 September 2021, allowing PV experts from all around the globe to participate with just one click! The EU PVSEC is the world's leading forum for PV Research and Development and the biggest Conference on PV Solar Energy worldwide. That is why PV experts from all around the globe are keen on gathering together each year to be part of this specialist’s event, to present and discuss the latest developments in Photovoltaics, to network and to conduct business.

Read Next

July 29, 2021
Tracker and racking provider Arctech has delivered SkySmart II tracking system to a 575MW agriculture-sharing solar project located in Nangong City, Hebei Province, China.
July 29, 2021
Unigreen Energy, owned by Hevel majority shareholder Ream Management LLC, has broken ground on a wafer and cell manufacturing plant that will produce 1.3GW of silicon n-type monocrystalline ingots and wafers as well as 1GW of heterojunction technology (HJT) solar cells.
July 29, 2021
Meyer Burger has revealed plans to launch a solar roof tile product, expanding its rooftop solar product range.
July 29, 2021
US residential solar installer SunPower has partnered with EV charging provider Wallbox to add EV charging technologies to its portfolio.
July 29, 2021
US residential solar installer Sunnova said it was investing in its end-to-end solar services to cater for customers demanding more from their rooftop installations.
July 29, 2021
The US Senate has passed a new bipartisan infrastructure bill after weeks of protracted discussions, establishing US$550 billion in new infrastructure funding as part of an investment described as “once-in-a-generation”.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
August 19, 2021
At 9am (PT) | 6pm (CEST)
Solar Media Events
August 25, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021