Japan Aims to Achieve Solar Grid Parity by 2030

2013/12/16 21:47
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) released a revised edition of the NEDO Renewable Energy Technology White Paper Dec 10, 2013.

According to the paper, the cost of solar power generation in Japan is ¥33.4-38.3 per 1kWh for residential systems and ¥30.1-45.8 per 1kWh for mega-solar (large-scale solar) power plants, which is still higher than that in the world (¥18.2-36.5 per 1kWh for residential systems and ¥15.0-29.9 per 1kWh for mega-solar power plants). The high cost can be attributed to the high prices of solar power generation systems in Japan including solar panels and slightly low solar irradiation.

Still, the "grid parity," which means a situation where a renewable energy-based power generation cost is lower than a unit electricity price set by a power company, will be soon achieved, according to the paper. Power generation cost with residential systems is expected to reach the unit electricity price for households (¥23 per 1kWh) in 2017. However, it is based on the assumption that the output fluctuation of solar power generation systems can be stabilized on the side of power grid.

The grid parity is aimed to be achieved only with solar power generation systems by 2030 by lowering the costs of output stabilization systems using, for example, rechargeable batteries, according to the paper.

Non-residential systems such as mega-solar power plants are expected to achieve power generation costs equivalent to the unit electricity price for businesses (¥14 per 1kWh) by 2020 in consideration of the current trend of lowering costs and the results of a "next-generation project" launched by NEDO.

To further lower the power generation costs to a level equivalent to the costs of mainstream power generation systems that do not use renewable energies, it is necessary to develop innovative technologies to (1) lower the cost and improve the efficiency of cell module, (2) lower the cost and extend the life of peripheral devices/members, (3) improve system efficiency and (4) lower the cost and improve the efficiency of operation and maintenance technologies, according to the paper.