The principal impediments to sustainable growth of utility and commercial-grade solar energy are: still rather discouraging reverse auction system which do not meet planned allocations, cumbersome procedure for obtaining special permits for land re-zoning for non-agricultural use, and the prospect of potential curtailment in certain power grids, which affects project financing. Additional challenges that Japanese utility companies may soon encounter are managing cost effective solutions to integrate de-centralised and intermittent renewable generations into the existing power grid. While Japan has focused extensively on solar power as a renewable energy source, the EBC believes that it must continue to encourage development of this important source of renewable energy. This must be carried out ambitiously with realistic targets, aimed at increasing the safety and reliability of the energy supply.
- Adopt and recognise internationally accepted certification standards for solar modules, system components and design qualifications, rather than enforcing existing “Japan-only” component and certification standards.
- Adopt an accreditation scheme to support the acceptance of test results, reports and certificates from any accredited certification body, whether domestic or foreign, based on available international standards.
- Incentivise and create standardisation programmes for the EPCOs to use to contract PV project construction to an emerging class of engineering and design companies, with the aim of reducing grid connection costs and lead times.
- Incentivise rooftop PV (PhotoVoltaic) installation as an alternative to power plants in remote areas requiring substantial land conversion, and facilitate PV installations for self-consumption in industrial and commercial sectors.
- Encourage further grid interconnections to reduce the occurrence and adverse impact of curtailment, utilise existing pump storage power generation plants, use and improve battery storage, provide technical and regulatory frameworks for floating PV plants, and consider new technologies, such as conversion to hydro for further PV integration.
- For the remaining FIT (Feed-In Tariff) projects under construction, project developers are forced to remain with previously selected PV modules and applied plant capacity, if they wish to maintain the earlier FIT (Feed-In-Tariffs) agreements. This practice not only results in failure to take advantage of recent technical developments, but in some cases has also resulted in unfavourable detail design. A certain level of flexibility with respect to design variations would easily avoid such situations, while maintaining the goal to clear the project pipeline.