In an attempt to spur on uptake of renewable energy sources and stimulate a flagging economy, one that’s experiencing the worst downturn in decades, Japan’s government is launching a net model feed-in tariff scheme where owners of grid connected solar power systems will be paid a premium rate for surplus electricity generated.
According to Toshihiro Nikai of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry the initial rate paid to owners of systems will be around 50 yen per surplus kilowatt hour produced, double the current rate of 24 yen. This equates to just under 80 Australian cents based on current exchange rates.
The premium rate was calculated in order to enable customers who have purchased grid connect systems to recover their initial outlay over 15 years. All electricity utilities in Japan will be required to participate in the scheme. It’s expected the additional cost will be passed on to consumers and the government hopes to limit the increase in electricity bills to less than 100 yen (around AUD $1.60) per month on average.
Late last year, Japan announced funding of 9 billion yen (AUD$145 million) in the first quarter of 2009 for other incentives to encourage home solar power; with further funding to come. Japan aims to have solar power systems installed on over 70% of new houses.
Once the world’s top solar power producer, Japan was unseated by Germany in the 1990’s when the German government introduced a gross feed in tariff program that pays a premium rate on all electricity generated by a grid connected system. The German program has not only see it become the world’s leader in solar capacity, but has created tens of thousands of jobs and over 1500 new businesses in the country. Feed in tariff programs active around the world have repeatedly demonstrated, when implemented correctly, are one of the most successful ways of stimulating uptake of renewable energy
In Australia, the approach to feed in tariffs to date has been fractured, with each state having its own system or none at at all.