Land of the Rising Sun under new management with strong solar support proposed

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President of the DPJ, Yukio Hatoyama, led his party to victory on a platform of wide spread social reform and increased government spending. The manifesto of the DPJ outlines numerous changes that should positively impact Japan’s domestic solar market.

1.    Fast-track the introduction of a Gross feed in tariff for renewables. (p.42 of the pdf manifesto)
2.    Subsidies for the purchase of solar panels for residential homes and other buildings. (p.42 of the pdf manifesto)
3.    Financial support to renovate existing housing to “Support barrier-free remodelling, seismic retrofitting and energy-saving renovation work such as installation of solar panels and insulation.” (p.42 of the pdf manifesto) This section also includes encouraging regulatory reform at the local government level to help eliminate barriers to installation.
4.    “Increase the ratio of renewable energy to total primary energy supply to around 10 percent by 2020” (p.43 of the pdf manifesto)
5.    Nurture technology skills through education for environment-related sectors. The solar panel subsidies are mentioned here as a way to increase employment and education.

On Aug. 19 Bloomberg correspondent, Megumi Yamanaka reported on figures from Goldman Sachs concerning what would happen to Japan’s domestic solar market should the DPJ win.

In this review Goldman Sachs analysts say that the 10% renewables target in the DPJ manifesto would require an additional 10GW of generating capacity by 2020, which could represent 680MW a year.

The top four manufacturers in Japan–Sharp, Sanyo, Mitsubishi and Kyocera–all stand to gain significantly from the change in government. Japanese consumers are famously nationalistic when selecting branded products, and the manifesto provides tax cuts that would give the average Japanese person a greater amount of disposable income. Coupled with the aggressive sounding plans to streamline the bureaucracy and subsidise solar installations, the numbers from Goldman Sachs do not appear so far-fetched.

News is also not necessarily bad for US solar companies as another part of the manifesto (p.46) speaks directly about creating a liberalised free trade agreement between Japan and the USA.

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