European countries were the first to launch and promote their solar market in the 2000’s. They mostly created a favorable environment for companies, households and communities to switch the flip: feed-in tariff, subsidies, advantageous loan and other policies were established to stimulate the solar industry. Among all the European countries, Germany and Italy are two countries with the highest solar capacity in the world. Germany is, in fact, the country with the highest solar capacity in the world. In June, the country solar capacity reached 34.186 megawatts. German authorities want to promote renewable energy as one of the top source of energy in the country, for that they set high goal: 35% of the produced energy should come from renewable energy sources by 2020 and eventually reach 100% by 2050.
On the Asian continent, Japan is also setting high expectation on renewable energy, especially since the ecological disaster of Fukushima in March 2011. Like European countries and the United States, Japan is counting on advantageous policies and subsidies on solar energy to stimulate the energy transition. Actually, Japan already offers the most stimulation Feed-in tariff rate which is set at $0.40 per kilowatt while it is only set at $0.20 per kilowatt in Germany.
Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, has become the favorite land for solar farm installation. This large island has still plenty of wild or abandoned fields available for a pittance which is quite propitious for large-scale solar project. For the past months, many abandoned fields, plants or buildings were converted into solar farm. However, Hokkaido only represent one quarter of Japan’s population which equals to less than 3% of the country electricity demand. Japanese authorities need to redirect the energy produced by solar farms to more densely populated area of the country. However, Japanese grids have not enough capacity to distribute Hokkaido’s solar energy to other region of the country.
Demand for solar energy is rocketing. According to Hokkaido Electric Power, it receives four times more applications to its solar program than it can handle. Change on the electricity network is very much needed to meet the demand of renewable energy. A deep work on islands energy connection is necessary. Moreover, the country is equipped with 10 different grids from 10 different utilities but interconnection between them is very weak and they only provide electricity to their attached region and cannot provide energy to boarding ones. On top of that there is some difference between the line frequencies of 3 eastern regions of Japan, including Tokyo, which perform though 50hz and the others 7 regions which uses 60hz. Only 3 converters are operating to convert line frequencies. Apart from the electricity interconnection issues, Japan will also need to stock the energy produced by solar farms for less sunny days. Therefore, investment on large battery will be essential.
Japan has no source of fossil energy. Thus, they mainly rely on nuclear energy. In 2011, Japan had 50 nuclear reactors, producing 30% of the country electricity. Before the Fukushima disaster, Japanese government planned to increase it up to 50%. This was put on hold due to the incident but lately, some utilities asked for an audit of their nuclear plants to restart them through new regulations of the Nuclear Regulation Authority.