Japan to Cut the Cost of Solar 50% Creating Greater Self-sufficiency

Japan imports a lot of its raw materials and fossil fuels are no exception. The country however is the 2nd largest global market for solar energy, and is home to some of the largest solar component manufacturers, including Sanyo, Kyocera, and Sharp.
The Japanese government will introduce tax credits and subsidies to encourage household use of solar energy starting next year. The details will be determined in August when the budget is created. The incentive will decrease the cost of a solar photovoltaic system by an estimated 50% within 3 to 5 years.
This initiative will make solar energy especially appealing because the cost of electricity in Japan is already over $.20 a kWh. This is roughly double the rate of electricity found in many areas of the US. Increased production of solar components can help the cost to decrease by creating an economy of scale. This solar incentive will also assist Japan in becoming more energy independent and less reliant on volatile fossil fuel markets.

Japan & Energy
The country imports a majority of its energy. Japan has virtually no oil or natural gas reserves within its borders and is the 2nd largest importer of crude oil. All of the coal used within Japan’s borders is imported. With 55 nuclear reactors, Japan has the 3rd largest generating capacity behind the US and France.
A mere 9% of Japan’s electricity is generated from hydroelectric power and a majority of the sites with good generating capacity have been exhausted. Although this is the main source of self-sufficient electricity, significantly expanding production is not an option.
Japan’s Climate Change Initiatives
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has shown interest in combating climate change and will be the host of the G-8 summit in August. Japan set a long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 60%-80% by 2050. Although the public supports reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Japan is currently not on target to meet the goals created in the Kyoto Protocol. Solar energy can help reduce the production of electricity from fossil fuels, thus reducing emissions.
Economic Impacts for Japansolar%20install.jpg
A quarter of the world’s solar cells are manufactured in Japan, a trend that is likely to continue as the domestic market increases. Germany, the largest global market for solar photovoltaics has generated over 10,000 jobs in production, installation, and distribution.
A boost in Japanese solar electricity output will help keep energy dollars within the Japanese economy that are currently leaving the country for the purchase of fossil fuels. As electric vehicles become more prevalent, electricity will increasingly be needed to power automobiles, helping to reduce reliance on foreign oil.
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Photo Credit (lower image): Solar Service Inc.

Sarah Lozanova is a green copywriter and communications professional specializing in renewable energy and clean technology. She is a consultant for Sustainable Solutions Group and a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Mother Earth Living, Home Power, Earth911, and Green Builder. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and she resides in Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage in Midcoast Maine.

16 responses

  1. Yeah, JT, that’s right there good buddy. Yoo tell them hippy tree huggers what’s what Hoss.
    Naw, if ya’ll want cost effective energy solutions, you just listen to me an ol’ JT here. See, what you need is oil. It’s proven to be cost effective. Look, our good buddy Dubya, well he done hardly spent three trillion buying up Irack an he done made oil good and reasonable priced.
    Ya’ll dont be fooled. Listen to yer good buddy JT. Oil is yer best bet for cost effective energy solutions. No lie.

  2. JT’s_Unkle:
    There are lots of alternative energy sources that we would use if they were simply more cost effective. Solar isn’t efficient enough to be considered cost effective yet. It is, however, well on its way.

  3. Sam, It looks like the price reduction isn’t in production but rather in the cost of the panels through government subsidies. The price of solar production stays the same, but the government will put up 50% of the cost for it’s citizens.
    It looks like a smart investment especially due to the fact the solar companies are mostly Japanese. Thus, a demand is created, which leads to a rise in revenue, which is ultimately taxed.

  4. Solar is already cost competitive in the US if you look at the cost over the lifespan of the panels. The problem is that it takes 10-30 years to pay them off (a number which has been dropping as panel prices go down and energy costs go up) and most people don’t budget for things that far in advance (the obvious exception being a home).
    Currently it would require availability of a government-sponsored low interest/no interest loan for widespread consumer adoption. I think that would be money well spent.

  5. JT,
    you can’t just make a wild claim that solar power isn’t cost effective. I have helped many people all over the world with their solar power projects and depending where you live and what your energy goals are it could be very cost effective, it all depends on how you design and deploy a solar power system. In areas where the cost per kWh is very cheap, sure solar is not cost effective, but it does have its environmental and social benefits.
    A lot of people on the internet who don’t know much about solar always says is not cost effective without doing an analysis of how an investment in solar power will perform.
    I suppose that is the reason why we here in America are in such a energy crisis because people are too quick to dismiss new technologies.

  6. Electricity costs US$0.37 per kwh here and solar is still not cost effective. I wish it was cause I’m tired of paying $500 a month electric bills in the summer.
    Maybe somebody will subsidize and insure a whole bunch of solar panels for me.

  7. Where is here? It seems hard to believe it wouldn’t be cost effective at those electric rates. If you tell me where you live, I can estimate the return on investment of a solar system. These estimates are dependent on the amount of sunshine that an area gets and what the incentives are.
    In the US, there is a tax credit of $2000 available to homeowners and even larger tax credits and write-offs for businesses. The tax credits are set to expire at the end of the year, so the solar system has to be installed before that time to benefit from them.
    Many states also have incentives. The website, http://www.dsireusa.org has information on these programs.

  8. When it comes to buildings, we must first make them energy efficient. While many buildings come close to that in harsher climates. The buildings in the warmer climates such as Florida, California, Arizona, etc. have been built very lacking. In California, the energy commission has had buildings tested by building science which uses blower doors, duct blowers and numerous other instruments. (This science has just been developed over the past 15 plus years and the utility companies in California are providing training to contractors over the past 6 and will provide the first certification testing through the California Building Performance Contractors Association over the next 3 months.) Anyhow, the teacher of these classes has tested 15 buildings throughout California including Leeds Platinum and Title 24 and NONE of them passed as energy efficient. We originally started out in solar and after attending these classes, we have joined the aboved mentioned Contractors Association because the most cost effective way to save energy is first to seal up the buildings and make them energy efficient than the lowers the size of the solar system needed to make them almost zero energy homes which is what we need since homes consume more energy then cars. A solar system of 5 Kw which would only help on the smallest homes (who probably could not afford them anyway) will cost over $40k.
    That same home can probably made energy efficient for $10k. Go to the CBPCA website and read the facts. The web address is: http://www.cbpca.org.

  9. Japan may be on the right path,If the U.S. had chosen to be a moral people, and leaving Iraqi oil alone, and following Al Gore, decided to develop the South Western deserts, with the technology of the times – solar/thermal-molten sodium – electricity installations, for the same amount of money as that war cost, ($650 Billion), today, we would be tapping into the largest, renewable, sustainable, energy source the world has ever known. It would have paid every energy bill in the U.S.A. for maintenance fees only – FOREVER! It would be equivalent to an oil field that can NEVER run dry! Low cost electric power, and storeable hydrogen gasoline replacement from the electricity, for all!
    After the millions of murders, and $650 billions of dollars, borrowed from our children’s futures and pissed away, with thousands of our own and others maimed and disfigured for life, millions of families utterly destroyed, ours and theirs, we are no closer to Iraqi oil production than the Iraqis are!
    The next time you hear a blithering idiot spoiled brat, drunken, drug addicted, sociopath, rich Arabic saber dancing daddie’s boy oilman, stand at a microphone and threaten YOUR safety with someone ELSE’S weapons, remember what you lost America, remember, and weep! (also see http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan)

  10. The pioneers where not the folks who settled the west. The pioneer was the guy lying dead on the trail with an arrow in his back. Right now solar, etc. are the frontier. Trouble is, no one wants to be the one to take the first arrow. This is the perfect arena for the government to take decisive action; to take that financial arrow for us. If Barack does nothing else in his term, he should push like hell for energy independence. If they’re willing to drop $700,000,000,000.00 (it’s good to write out numbers like that) on bailing out the banks alone, why not ‘bail out’ our energy infrastructure? How many panels, wind turbines, geothermal systems would that kind of money buy? Think we could work some sort of volume discount?

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