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60GW of Solar Projects Might Shift to New Certification System in Japan

2017/04/26 17:06
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Institute
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Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced the estimated number and capacity of renewable energy-based power generation projects that can shift to the new certification system after the revision of the feed-in tariff (FIT) policy April 21, 2017.

The number and capacity seem to be larger than predicted. And 6-7GW of solar power plants will possibly be newly built every year for the next four years.

According to the estimates of METI, the number and power generation capacity of projects that have concluded a contract with a power company until the end of March 2017 and are eligible for the shift to the new certification system are 2,695,000 and 73.56GW, respectively. When the power generation capacity of projects that are the targets of the bidding process and excluded from the new certification process is added (2,000 projects, 5.27GW), the capacity reaches 78.86GW.

The 79GW of projects, which will possibly shift to the new certification system, does not take the ratio of biomass power plants into consideration, and, therefore, it is difficult to calculate the ratio of renewable energy projects excluding solar projects. However, if the ratio is estimated to be 15-20GW based on values that METI has announced thus far, the capacity of solar projects that will shift to the new certification system can be higher than 60GW.

METI announced in the past that the capacity of certified solar projects was 80.89GW at the end of November 2016. This value does not include the capacity of projects whose certification was voluntarily canceled or canceled after hearing or collection of reports by METI. Therefore, the capacity of solar projects whose certification was canceled due to the shift to the revised FIT policy can be estimated to be about 20GW.

In the past, many of those who are related to the industry considered that 50-55GW of the 80GW certified under the old certification system could shift to the new system after the revision of the FIT policy. So, a more-than-expected number of project are expected to shift to the new system. Though about 5GW of projects that are the targets of the bidding process remain as uncertain elements, up to about 60GW of solar projects might be operated under the new certification system.