In the wake of March 2011′s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, that nation’s confidence in atomic power was crippled to the point that many Japanese citizens compared the months immediately following the incident to the post-WW II era, a difficult period for the country. A common sentiment in Japan in August of 2011 was that energy conservation had become so critical that many in the country were willing to give up nuclear power all together, even if it meant returning to a pre-WWII lifestyle.
The country cracked down on inefficiency as a matter of course and as a whole, exceeded national energy conservation mandates. And now, another trend is emerging from the island nation: according to Reuters, owners of small solar panel installations sold 50 percent more power back to their utilities in 2011 than in the previous year.
This segment of the population–homeowners and small businesses with small solar panel systems–took advantage of a government feed-in tariff scheme that requires Japan’s 10 regional power companies to purchase surplus solar power. In 2011, over 2,150 gigawatt hours were sold to the utilities in this way, equally a total of $1.2 billion spent on solar power. Comparatively, only 1,400 gigawatt hours of surplus solar energy were purchased in 2010.
A “full-fledged scheme” that will encompass electricity from solar, wind, small hydro, biomass and geothermal power plants will debut in Japan in July, and the existing feed-in tariff scheme will then only cover solar panel owners for surplus power up to 10 kW.