The first reported quarterly figures for PV module shipments in Japan in the country’s current financial year show a drop below the 2GW mark for the first time since JFY2013.
According to statistics published by the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA), Japan shipped just 1,737MW of PV modules in the first quarter of its 2015 financial year covering the period from April to June this year. It is the lowest total reported by the association since the first quarter of 2013, when shipments stood at 1,663MW. Of the 1,737MW shipped, around 67%, 1,162MW, was produced by Japanese companies.
Japan introduced its feed-in tariff (FiT) for renewable energy in June 2012, with solar championed as the technology to benefit most. Throughout 2014’s financial year, this led to shipments over 2GW for each quarter. The fourth quarter of 2014, January to March of this calendar year, saw Japan ship 2,836MW of modules, with around 2,008MW shipped in the first quarter and the second and third quarters seeing shipments between those two figures, at 2,566MW and 2,460MW respectively.
JPEA is a loose association of companies operating in Japan’s solar energy sector, which regularly surveys around 40 industry players to obtain its reported statistics. The group recently appointed Panasonic boss Shusaku Nagae as its chairman. In a welcoming statement on the JPEA site, Nagae writes that as the domestic industry faces a number of challenges, including available grid connection capacity and the burden on consumer bills, the Japanese PV industry needs to focus more on energy management systems and other solutions to integrate solar energy into electricity networks.
“In order to further leverage PV generation going forward amid such circumstances, we must move on to the next stage of connectivity to the Energy Management System (EMS) and optimisation of energy supply and demand in smart communities,” Nagae wrote.
The latest PV shipment figures from JPEA followed a warning by the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation – an organisation which has more of an advocacy role both facing the public and within the industry than JPEA – which said Japan’s targets for renewable energy are weak compared not only to those set by “Western” powers, but also in comparison to efforts within Asia by India and China. The Japanese government Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), has said the country could only meet around 20% of its energy demand through renewables by 2030, according to JREF, which used figures including a prediction that China could manage 53% by 2030 and 86% by 2050, to make its point.