Japanese Industry Minister Yukio Edano recently approved renewable energy feed-in tariffs (FIT) for the country. The program means that electricity from renewable energy will be subject to higher rates. Similar programs in other countries have been very successful, which is part of the reason Japan is pursuing this course.
The feed-in tariff in Japan will mean that utilities will pay rates twice as much as those in Germany and three times as much as Chinese utilities. Energy from wind turbines will also be subsidized at much higher rates than in other countries like Germany.
The new subsidy program (described as “generous”) requires “utilities to buy electricity generated by renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal heat at a premium for 20 years.” The increased costs will be recouped via rate hikes passed on to consumers.
The Japanese people are determined to become self-sufficient in the wake of last year’s earthquake and tsunami which left the country reeling from frequent power cuts. The nation’s nuclear reactors were shut down, one by one, as the country sought to find a safer alternative to nuclear power.
“People had to queue for hours several times a week to charge their cell phones during the blackouts, which lasted for up to three weeks,” Naoaki Ando told Reuters. Ando is the manager of an office near Sendai of Sekisui House, Japan’s biggest home builder.
Sekisui is developing a community of nearly 500 homes in the suburban area of Sendai. Each of the homes will be equipped with solar panels. Subsidies are also offered to residences equipped with solar.
Because of the FIT, Japanese experts believe solar energy within the country will grow from 655.3 billion yen in 2010 to over 1.4797 trillion yen ($18.9 billion) in 2015.