TOKYO Aug 29 Sales of solar cells in Japan rose
72.2 percent from a year earlier to 445.3 megawatts in
April-June, industry data showed, helped by a jump in demand for
non-residential power generation ahead of the launch of a new
renewable power subsidy scheme.
In July, Japan introduced a feed-in tariff (FIT) programme
under which regional power utilities buy power from renewable
energy suppliers at pre-set premiums for up to 20 years.
The move, aimed at helping the world's third-biggest economy
shift away from reliance on nuclear power after last year's
Fukushima disaster, could unleash billions of dollars in
Imported solar cells accounted for 29.6 percent of total
domestic sales, up from 15.5 percent a year earlier and the
highest since the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association started
gathering such detailed data in 2004.
Year-on-year growth in domestic sales peaked at 191.6
percent in October-December 2009, totalling 190.7 MW, as the
government launched a pilot FIT scheme covering surplus solar
power from households only in November 2009.
The launch of the comprehensive FIT scheme in July has
attracted companies that generate power from solar modules for
sale to regional utilities. Sales to such companies surged to
29.8 MW in the April-June quarter, four times higher than a year
earlier, the data showed.
"Some solar power plants started commercial operations in
time for the launch of the FIT scheme in July. The data this
time partly reflects shipments to these plants," an association
The association revised its list of suppliers while
compiling data for the April-June quarter as several Japanese
companies stopped supplying solar modules and Panasonic Corp
took over Sanyo Electric's solar module production.
Foreign suppliers now account for a quarter of the 32
companies polled, compared with 18 percent previously,
reflecting the growing share of imports.
The companies polled include major Japanese solar module
makers Sharp Corp, Kyocera Corp, Panasonic
Corp and Mitsubishi Electric Corp, and
overseas makers such as Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd
and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd.