Yingli Green Energy announced yesterday that it will supply modules to a 2MW commercial rooftop project in Japan, which will be built by engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm Benex Japan.
Through its Japanese subsidiary, Yingli will supply around 8,000 of its monocrystalline PANDA modules to the project, Benex Nagareyama Solar Port, Chiba Prefecture. The shipments are scheduled to be delivered by the end of this month, with the project due to be connected to the grid in October. Yingli claims it will generate around 2,150,000kWh of energy annually.
Activity in the Japanese market has been dominated by high profile ground mounted projects and the project remains unusual in scope for the country. Additionally, the project is being hosted on a rented rooftop, making it even rarer. Ground mount projects continue to be built but land shortages and grid interconnection have meant the sector has stumbled, as regular visitors to this site will know.
Benex Japan executive vice president Yohei Kobayashi said the project was limited by a small roof, making Yingli's high efficiency PANDA modules a good fit.
Yingli Green chairman Linshiang Miao, said the company expected to see more activity in the rooftop segment in the near future. He said leveraging long-term partnerships with companies such as Benex would be integral to obtaining these opportunities.
A Japanese PV market analyst, Dr Hiroshi Matsukawa of Tokyo-based RTS PV, recently told PV Tech that foreign companies often struggled to make inroads into the often inward-looking Japanese market.
Part of the difficulty for foreign companies trying to go it alone, Matsukawa said, was that Japanese lending institutions are often reluctant to supply project finance capital to projects using Chinese branded modules.
“Within Japan there are a lot of local rules and other constraints, so bringing over ways of doing things from abroad and trying to make them work here either can't be done or takes a lot of time. Due to this a lot of foreign companies are suffering hardships in the Japanese market. It's still the case that partnerships with Japanese companies can help,” Matsukawa said.
Yingli’s client for the new project, Benex Japan, has a background in sheet metal processing and makes electronic and electrical devices to order, mostly for use in manufacturing processes and other large-scale applications. The company diversified into the solar sector in 2012, the year the feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme was introduced in Japan. In addition to EPC services to solar projects, the company also produces its own enclosures for inverters and AC collector boxes.