Japan is often a few years ahead of much of the world when it comes to implementing advanced technology — mobile, computing, robotics, etc. The same can be said for Japan’s solar initiatives, and according to Kyodo News, the country is aiming for 30 percent of all homes to have solar panels installed by 2030.
That would bring the number of installed solar panels installed to 14 million from 400,000, boosting the country’s solar capacity 30-fold from the current 1.3 million kilowatts. To bring the cost of solar panels down to 7 yen (6 cents) per kw by 2030 from 46 yen (42 cents) per kw today, the Japanese government plans on spending 2 billion yen ($18.2 million) on R&D for the project.
The report laments that while Sharp and other Japanese solar panel manufacturers account for half of the world output of solar power equipment, Japan has actually fallen behind Germany as the world leader in solar installations. According to The Earth Policy Institute, Germany over took Japan as the leading solar installation market in 2004.
But when you compare that to the U.S., Japan is still a stellar solar model. The Earth Policy Institute says that Japan is the leading solar manufacturer and it ranked No. 2 in terms of solar installations, with 350 megawatts installed in 2006, behind Germany, which had 1,050 megawatts installations that year, but ahead of the U.S., which took the third spot with 141 megawatts.
Japan’s residential PV incentive program created the boom in the country’s solar installer market, but the country has been experiencing a decline in the growth rate of PV installations because the incentive program, which was established in 2005, is being phased out. This 30 percent solar project could help the country curb that slowing growth rate in the short term.
Japan will also soon lose its lead as the world’s top solar manufacturer. Given Japan’s small size and China’s role as a low-cost manufacturing juggernaut, by 2008 China will likely take over that role. China’s market share in solar manufacturing has grown to over 18 percent today from just 1 percent in 2003.