According to Reuters, subsidies in Japan for home solar panels are having a difficult time luring applicants. This may imply that the government could soon step in to promote the solar power industry.
A new stimulus plan is expected to spend more money on solar projects. This is the fourth such package in the last year and is predicted to include fiscal spending of up to US$150 billion. Last January, the Japanese Government introduced a ¥70,000 subsidy per kW of solar panel equipment, hoping 35,000 users would apply from January-March. So far, there have been just 21,653 applications, according to the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association. Reuters says this subsidy would come out to close to ¥245,000 for 3.5kW of equipment per household, nearly a tenth of the cost.
Analysts believe the credit crisis may lead to customers feeling uneasy about big investments, especially since solar energy will become cheaper in the future.
Etsuko Akiba, head of media relations at the Nippon Association of Consumer Specialists, mentioned, “People say they would rather wait until the cost halves in three to five years, which is what the Government has forecast.”
¥9 billion has been budgeted for the subsidies over the next three months in addition to ¥20 billion for the fiscal year, starting April 1, hoping for 120,000 applicants in 15 months. Local governments have also been giving subsidies to aid the move for solar energy.
Reuters states that the demand for solar panels had disappeared after the Japanese Government stopped giving subsidies in March of 2006.