Japanese utilities to resume approving grid connections for renewables

The issues that caused some Japanese utilities to restrict further grid connections for solar plants last year is expected to be resolved. The government is expected to release targets that would establish how much renewable energy will be permitted this year, and that announcement could come very soon.

Naha, Okinawa, Japan. Credit: 663highland/Wikimedia Commons

Kyushu Electric Company was the first utility to delay accepting applications for solar grid connections in September of last year and was followed soon by four others. Their concern was that the phenomenal growth of solar generation caused an oversupply endangering grid reliability.

They utilities said they needed time to perform electric grid upgrades to handle the profusion of solar power and minimize the possibility of blackouts.

Japan enacted a feed-in-tariff (FIT) program in 2012 that requires utilities to accept and pay for the electricity generated by renewable energy producers. The FIT, considered one of the highest in the world, drew more than a million applications, mostly for solar generation.

A representative of Japan’s relatively new Agency for New and Renewable Energy (ANRE), part of the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI), told PV Tech that the targets will be in place this year. He did not provide further details.

Following the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster, the country jumped headlong into renewables, particularly solar — and solar generating capacity more than doubled in less than two years.

As a side note, there have been no official announcements but industry observers and others have said some of the country’s closed nuclear plants could be back in operation this year.

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