Categories
Renewable energy

Japan biomass electricity generation booming

Japan biomass electricity generation approaches 4 GigaWatt

Renewables in Japan is not just solar…

Looking superficially at Japan’s renewable energy sector, its easy to overestimate geo-thermal energy, and to underestimate biomass.

Biomass electricity generation capacity is about 5 times higher than geo-thermal

Japan biomass - Biomass electricity generation capacity in Japan approaches 4 GigaWatt
Biomass electricity generation capacity in Japan approaches 4 GigaWatt

Currently the installed biomass electricity generation capacity is about 5 times higher than for geo-thermal energy production – a fact often overlooked in superficial discussions.

Biomass electricity production is included in Japan’s new feed-in-tariff program which started in July 2012, and is also very generous.

The figure above shows approvals for electricity generation projects from biomass under the new feed-in-tariff program, and demonstrates that after a slow start, approvals are now picking up. The sum of biomass generation facilities operating before the introduction of the new feed-in-tariffs plus approvals since July 2012 approaches 4 GigaWatt, which corresponds approximately to the generation capacity of 4 nuclear reactors.

Understand Japan’s renewable energy

Our report on Japan’s Renewable Energy Sector (pdf file, approx. 219 pages)

Understand Japan’s energy sector

Our report on Japan’s Energy Sector (pdf file, approx. 227 pages)

Copyright 2014-2019 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Electricity Japan's energy sector Renewable energy

Feed in tariff Japan for renewable energy: approvals drying up?

Feed in tariff Japan for renewable energy are about three times higher than in Germany

Approvals peaked just before the latest feed in tariff reduction

The figures below show an overview of renewable energy sources currently installed and operational in Japan (the majority of which is water power), and also renewable energy projects approved by Japan’s industry ministry METI under the renewable energy feed-in-tariff (FIT) law, which started in July 2012.

Approvals peaked just before March 31, 2013

The figures below clearly show that approvals peaked in March 2013, and dropped off dramatically from April 2013. The reason is most likely the decrease of FIT-tariffs from April 1, 2013: it seems that many applications were rushed in order to take advantage of the higher FIT-tariffs for projects approved up and until March 31, 2013.

Renewable energy capacity approved so far under the FIT-law will increase renewable energy capacity in Japan approximately by 70%, including water power. 94% of renewable energy projects approved under Japan’s feed-in-tariff programs are for solar energy generation (see our past blog analyzing FIT approvals).

The figures below show, that almost no fresh generation capacity was approved during March, April and May 2013: the approval of new renewable energy capacity is drying up.

Thus, companies seeking to build solar power stations in Japan based on pref-approved METI-projects, are faced with a fixed pool of approved projects, with almost no additional projects being added until May 2013.

More details in the latest 6th edition of our Renewable Energy Report.

Feed in tariff Japan for renewable energy: Approvals for renewable energy projects under the feed-in tariff law until May 2013 in comparison with installed renewable energy in Japan
Accumulated total generation capacity of approvals for renewable energy projects under the feed-in tariff law until May 2013 in comparison with installed renewable energy in Japan. Approvals seem to have dried up: almost no new capacity has been approved during March-May 2013.
Feed in tariff Japan for renewable energy: Figure shows solar energy projects approved by Japan's Industry Ministry METI under the renewable energy FIT law.
Figure shows the accumulated generation capacity of solar energy projects approved by Japan’s Industry Ministry METI under the renewable energy FIT law. Approvals seem to have dried up: almost no new capacity has been approved during March-May 2013.
Feed in tariff Japan for renewable energy: Approvals under Japan's renewable energy feed-in-tariff law per month
Approvals under Japan’s renewable energy feed-in-tariff law per month. Figure shows that approved generation capacity drops to a low level after March 2013 – the most likely explanation for the dramatic drop of approvals after March 2013 is the reduction of FIT-tariffs from April 1, 2013: it looks likely that many applications were rushed to meet with the higher FIT tariffs available for projects granted at the higher rates up to March 31, 2013 (42 yen/kWh in case of large scale solar)

“Renewable energy Japan” research report

Copyright 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Renewable energy

94% of renewable energy projects approved under Japan’s feed-in-tariff programs are for solar energy generation

Japan’s feed in tariff for renewable energy

Almost all projects are for solar energy

Feed-in-tariffs for renewable energy where introduced in two stages in Japan. Large scale introduction of feed-in-tariffs (FIT) started with the Law entitled “Special measures concerning renewable energy electric power procurement by operators of electrical utilities law” which came into force on July 1, 2012. However, subsidies and feed-in-tariffs were already in place earlier for residential solar (mostly on roof-tops of private homes). Projects approved under the FIT program of July 1, 2012 amount to an increase of 41% in nominal renewable electrical generation capacity. Feed-in-tariffs however are not the whole story, because there are also programs for financial support, special finance arrangements, and tax benefits, and other support programs.

Renewable energy projects approved under Japan's feed-in-tariff program increased renewable energy generation capacity by 41.4% sofar
Renewable energy projects approved under Japan’s feed-in-tariff program increased renewable energy generation capacity by 41.4% sofar. source: https://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_renewable/

Under the law feed-in-tariffs are periodically reviewed and adjusted. In fact, feed-in-tariffs for solar energy have already been reduced by about 10% this year and are likely to be decreased further next year. For some types of feed-in-tariffs however, increases are under discussions – thus the FIT-tariffs for off-shore wind maybe increased in the future.

Since feed-in-tariffs for solar are set for a period of 20 years, and are decreased periodically, there is great incentive to start solar installations as early as possible, in fact some Mega-Solar plants were switched on on July 1, 2012 to use every possible day. Currently there is a rush of solar operators starting up and expanding in Japan – exactly the effect the Government had intended by setting high feed-in-tariffs.

Project approvals under Japan's feed-in-tariff program for renewable energy are 93.8% for solar plants
Project approvals under Japan’s feed-in-tariff program for renewable energy are 93.8% for solar plants. Source: https://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_renewable/

The renewable energy mix approved under the FIT program is very different to Japan’s traditional renewable energy mix, which was predominantly large scale water power plants

Prior to the introduction of feed-in-tariffs, renewable energy in Japan was predominantly large scale (greater than 1 MegaWatt) water power
Prior to the introduction of feed-in-tariffs, renewable energy in Japan was predominantly large scale (greater than 1 MegaWatt) water power. source: https://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_renewable/

Renewable energy Japan report

detailed statistical data for installed renewable capacity and electricity generation and analysis

Copyright 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Leadership Mobile Renewable energy telecommunications

Growth in Japan: the SoftBank group

SoftBank gaining market share in Japan

SoftBank market cap catching up with Docomo

Mobile subscription data released last week show, that the SoftBank group continues to gain market share while incumbent NTT-docomo continues to lose market share – an upward trend for SoftBank, and a downward trend for NTT-docomo essentially unbroken since SoftBank acquired Vodafone-Japan and succeeded with the turn-round.

SoftBank’s market cap has also steadily increased recently and is now close to NTT-docomo’s, exceeding it on some days:

operator || Market Cap (May 10, 2013)

  • NTT-docomo || YEN 6945 billion (US$ 68 billion)
  • SoftBank || YEN 6688 billion (US$ 66 billion)
  • KDDI || YEN 4162 billion (US$ 41 billion)
SoftBank group exceeds 40 million mobile subscriptions
SoftBank group exceeds 40 million mobile subscriptions

Bringing eMobile and PHS operator Willcom under its group umbrella, and by creating the new operator Wireless City Planning (WCP), Softbank group subscription numbers now exceed 40 million, and have overtaken KDDI

PHS operator Willcom joins the SoftBank group

PHS operator Willcom registered for bankruptcy administration essentially because of the high investments in upgrading the legacy PHS network infrastructure, and is currently in corporate reconstruction with SoftBank as the reconstruction sponsor.

Wireless City Planning (WCP) is a wireless operator owned partially by Advantage Partners and SoftBank and other investors, and representing the next generation network Willcom hoped – but could not afford – to develop.

While negotiating the SPRINT acquisition, SoftBank tricks out KDDI to take control of eMobile

While Masayoshi Son was secretly negotiating his offer for SPRINT, he discovered that KDDI was in negotiations to acquire new entrant eMobile. While continuing the SPRINT negotiations, he was a faster decision maker than KDDI, and could win the eMobile acquisition right under the eyes of KDDI.

Since a few weeks ago, iPhones on SoftBank‘s network automatically log into both SoftBank’s and eMobile‘s LTE radio networks, greatly enhancing data transmission rates and coverage.

More in our report on Japan’s telecommunications sector

Softbank and Renewable Energy

Softbank recently also entered the renewable energy business. Read more about Softbank’s renewable energy business in our Renewable energy report (our work on Japan’s energy sector is referenced in IEEE-Spectrum here).

Learn more about SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, and his 30/300 year vision for SoftBank

Report on “SoftBank today and 300 year vision” (approx 120 page, pdf file)

Copyright 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Renewable energy

Japan ought to be heaven for renewable energy (The Economist)

Industry Ministry METI announces renewable energy sources admitted to the feed-in-tariff program

Reversing the decline of renewable energy in Japan

A few days ago Japan’s industry ministry METI announced the most recent data on renewable energy sources in Japan admitted under the feed-in-tariff (FIT) regulations introduced on July 1, 2012. We have updated our report on “Renewable energy in Japan” to take account of these most recent data – read a short summary in this newsletter below.

Read an article on Japan’s electricity sector in The Economist here, where we helped a little.

Japan added 23% to renewable electricity generation since introduction of FIT
Japan added 23% to renewable electricity generation since introduction of FIT

Feed-In-Tariffs for renewables reverse Japan’s trend of decreasing contributions from renewable energy sources

As our previous newsletter of March 26, 2013 has shown (and as shown in more detail in our renewable energy report), the contribution of renewable energy sources to Japan’s energy mix has dropped from around 25% in the 1970s to around 10% recently.

Since the introduction of the feed-in-tariffs of July 2012, the installed capacity for renewable electricity generation in Japan has increased by about 23% if hydropower is included, and by about 70% if hydropower is excluded.

Since solar plants are quickest to install, and the permission process is by far the easiest, about 91% of renewable electricity installations permitted under the FIT program by METI are for solar electricity, while only 9% are for other sources such as wind or bio-mass.

Wind, hydro and geo-thermal installations require a lengthy planning, permission, environmental impact process, and far longer construction phase, so that the impact of the FIT program will be seen only in a few years time.

126% were added to Japan's solar electrical generation capacity since July 2012
126% were added to Japan’s solar electrical generation capacity since July 2012

Solar electricity generation capacity more than doubled due to FIT

Solar electricity generation capacity increased by 126% since July 2012 due to the introduction of new feed-in-tariffs and other regulations promoting solar energy. Note that previous to July 2012, about 83% of Japan’s solar electricity generation capacity was residential, while only 17% were industrial solar installations.

Renewable energy Japan – research report

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Renewable energy

Japan to reverse decline of renewable energy – Renewables declined from 25% to 10%

Japan’s renewable energy generation is overwhelmingly water power

Japan to reverse decline of renewable energy. The ratio of renewable power generation has decreased from 25% of total electricity generation in 1970 to 10% today. Extremely aggressive feed-in tariffs (FIT) for renewable energy introduced in July 2012 are showing first modest results to reverse this trend – initially solar energy projects dominate FIT projects, since solar projects are fastest to build. Larger projects, such as off-shore wind power, or geo-thermal projects, take a very much longer time to plan and build – on the order of 10 years or longer. More below and in our report on “Renewable energy in Japan”.

Japan's electricity generation from renewable sources
Japan’s electricity generation from renewable sources

Japan’s ratio of electricity generation from renewable resources has dropped from 25% to 10% over the period 1970-2012

Over the years, electricity generation from nuclear and thermal sources has grown much faster than from renewable sources in Japan. As a result, electricity generation from renewable resources has dropped from around 25% in 1970 to around 10% in 2012. In 2012, Japan’s Government and industry associations have announced aggressive plans to reverse this trend

Japan's renewable energy is overwhelmingly water power
Japan’s renewable energy is overwhelmingly water power

Water power dominates renewable energy in Japan

This figure shows all electricity generation in Japan from renewable sources: Japan currently relies overwhelmingly on water power for renewable energy, which varies between 5% of total electricity in winter and around 12%-15% of total in summer, with an overall decrease since 2006. The figure shows that other renewable energy sources (wind, solar, geo-thermal and bio-mass) are still in the very early stages of development.

Renewable energy Japan- research report

Copyright 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Electricity Fukushima Daiichi Japan's energy sector Natural Gas, LNG nuclear Renewable energy

Japan’s energy foxtrot: Two steps forward one step back

Two steps forward one step back:

describes a frog struggling to climb out of a well, slipping back one step on the ladder for each two steps upwards out of the well

Before the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s energy policy, strategy and execution were essentially decided behind closed doors by a small group of (about 100) Japanese people, and while European countries, Canada, USA experimented with electricity liberalization, Japan’s electricity industry structure went unchanged for a very very long time with a rigid top-down structure. However with the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s energy landscape has been brought onto the world stage, catching global attention for the first time.

Two steps forward (actually much more than two steps): Last Friday, September 14, 2012, Japan’s Cabinet released Japan’s new “Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy”. We have analyzed the full Japanese text of this strategy paper, and you can find a summary on pages 5-23 in our “Japan Electrical Energy Landscape” report.

Most English language press reports focus only on the first few pages which describe a plan to phase out nuclear energy in Japan over the next 30-40 years. However this Government paper contains many other policy measures to reform Japan’s electricity industry and to completely change the principles of Japan’s energy landscape – steps which are long overdue, and where Japan has fallen behind most other advanced countries, because pre-Fukushima, Japan’s electricity industry was functioning “too well” – although at very elevated prices (for detailed analysis, read our report).

The strategy plan announced on September 14, 2012 has not yet created any irreversible facts – although two irreversible facts could soon be implemented: the Government announced a few days ago, that 3 nuclear power reactors should be decommissioned under the new 40-year-limit-rule, Tsuruga’s No 1 reactor (started March 1970), and Mihama’s No. 1 (started Nov 1970) and No. 2 reactors (started July 1972).

One step back: Sept. 19, the Cabinet released a “Kakugikettei” (Cabinet Decision) which is 4 and 1/2 lines long, which says:

We will carry out our energy and environmental policy based on the “Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy” as decided by the Energy and Environment Council on Sept 14, however we will hold responsible discussions with concerned self-governing regional bodies of Japan and with concerned international organizations, and we will continuously and flexibly verify and adjust our policy. (Kakugikettei, Cabinet decision of Sept 19, 2012, our unofficial translation from bureaucratic official complex Japanese into simplified English, attempting to keep the same meaning).

Note, that this “step back” is not uniquely Japanese: Sweden decided in the 1980s to go zero-nuclear with a Parliament approved schedule, and Sweden’s parliament reversed the earlier zero-nuclear decision, and went back to continue nuclear power in 2010 and renewing or building new nuclear power stations.

Subscribe to our report on Japan’s energy sector and receive regular updates.

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved