Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Commercial Solar Cells Eclipse Consumer Shipments
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Domestic shipments of commercial solar cells exceeded those for residential applications for the first time ever in the October-December quarter, according to industry figures released Tuesday.
The numbers highlight the changing structure of Japan's solar cell market. Whereas the market had long been dominated by household solar panels, the trend now is for companies to invest in megasolar power systems as a stable source of revenue. The change is being driven by the feed-in tariff mechanism enacted last July that guarantees a set price for the sale of electricity generated from renewable sources.
The Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association reported that overall shipments of photovoltaic modules during the October-December quarter increased 2.5-fold on the year to slightly more than 1 million kilowatts. While shipments for residential use grew 44% to 476,322kw, shipments for such business applications as on-site power generation and commercial electricity production ballooned sevenfold to 526,089kw.
The feed-in tariff mechanism currently guarantees a purchase price of 42 yen per kilowatt-hour for solar power, with rates under contract remaining fixed for 20 years. This makes investing in megasolar systems a low-risk venture, raising expectations that more companies will enter the field.
(The Nikkei, Feb. 27 morning edition)