” After spending almost $30 billion on solar energy in a single year and installing as many panels as exist in the whole of Spain, Japan is preparing to ratchet back its boom in photovoltaic power.
At least five of the nation’s utilities are restricting the access of new solar farms to their grids. Utilities say two years of rapid expansion has strained their capacity to absorb all the new electricity from sources that generate only when the sun shines.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government offered some of the highest incentives for solar in the world to build PV as an alternative to the nuclear reactors shut down after the meltdowns in Fukushima more than three years ago. That made Japan the second-biggest solar market, balancing a slowdown in sales in Germany and Spain, which once led the industry.
“Everyone was entering the solar market because it was lucrative, and that has strained the market,” said Yutaka Miki, who studies clean energy at the Japan Research Institute.
Japan’s trade ministry has approved plans for about 72 gigawatts of renewable energy projects since July 2012. The country installed almost 7.1 gigawatts of solar capacity last year, more than currently exists in all of Spain, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A gigawatt is about the size of a nuclear reactor.
Japan’s investment in the technology more than tripled to $29.6 billion in 2013 from 2010 levels, data from London-based BNEF show. ”