Japan Adds Massive Amount of Renewables Thanks to FITs

Japan’s government finally released the June 2013 non-large hydroelectric renewable energy capacity numbers last night. These represent the results of the first year since the implementation of Japan’s aggressive Feed-in Tariff program in July of 2012. The numbers are impressive. Here they are:

Existing Renewable Energy Capacity up to June 2012: 20 GW
New Renewable Energy Capacity Installed July 2012 through June 2013: 3.7 GW
New Renewable Energy Capacity Approved Pipeline: 23 GW

Solar PV makes up about 90% of the newly installed capacity.

Interestingly, the media has started to spin the numbers a bit. According to a Jiji story which was picked up by Nikkei, Sankei and others, Japan added “3 nuclear reactors” worth of renewables. The number “3” seems to be based on  new nuclear reactors only which have a rated output of about 1.2 GW. Bloomberg, however, calls the new capacity “nearly 4 nuclear reactors” worth using a calculation of 1 GW per reactor.

In reality, the worldwide average nuclear reactor power output is about 800 MW which puts the number of nuclear reactor equivalents at about 5 here in Japan.

Whatever the number of reactors worth, it is a large amount of clean, safe, renewable power, indeed. It is especially large considering that Japan currently has ZERO nuclear reactors working right now. And has only had two of its fifty reactors running for the past year.

It should also be noted that Japan’s government has slowed down its release of this information. During the prior DPJ administration these reports were released within two or three weeks of the end of each month. Since the current LDP administration took over in January 2013, the ENECHO reports have been delayed by months at a time. Based on the old administration’s timeline, the July and August reports should have been released by now, and the September report should be released within a week or two. I have a strong suspicion that the numbers are being delayed due to politics of the current pro-nuclear administration.

Here is ENECHO Japanese language release page for the details.

Power Play – Germany : Great Short Film on Energy Revolution [Video]

Journeyman Films has a great short film on the energy revolution happening in Germany. It focuses on two villages, Schönau and Feldheim.

One interesting point is that the film translates the German term for feed-in tariffs as ‘subsidies’. According to Renewables International, the word actually translates as “funding”:

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Why “Cost Plus” Is A Very Bad Thing™

Traditional power rate setting mechanisms are a very inefficient and expensive way to set electricity rates. These mechanisms can, and many times do, incentivize electric utilities to invest in the most expensive forms of power generation. This means that you and I pay way too much for electricity.

In Japan and many other countries/markets, electric utility rates are set through a “Cost Plus” system. As I wrote the other day, the Cost Plus system works like this:

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Japan Feed-in Tariff Overviews in English

A couple of really well done reviews of Japan’s new FITs are now available. General take is that the FITs appear a bit high on initial examination, but probably not too high based on Japan’s desire for rapid adoption of renewable energy. I recommend everyone read these!

Japanese Proposed Tariffs Submitted
– World’s Highest Feed-in Tariffs
– Differentiated by Technology But Otherwise Little Further Differentiation
– Are the Tariffs too High?
Paul Gipe has done a thorough overview of the new Japanese renewable energy FITs at his excellent Wind-works.org website.

Japanese feed-in tariffs committee report
@Kf_Lenz has also put together an excellent and nuanced examination of the tariffs.  I agree with his outlook that the tariffs are not too aggressive when one considers the costs of business in Japan as well as the desire for rapid uptake of renewables by the nation.

Are there any other good analysis reports of the new Japanese FITs on the internets? Please let me know!

Feed-in Tariffs Are A Very Good Thing

Renewable energy FITs are in the news a lot these days here in Japan. “FIT” is the acronym for Feed-In Tariffs – a mechanism for paying for production of renewable energy at a guaranteed price. FITs are designed to encourage both investment in renewable energy production by allowing an energy producers to have a sure fire way to make money off their investment.  FITs have proven extremely successful in developing the renewable energy market in a large number of countries.

A silly man commented to me online that FITs are somehow very bad. Initially I thought that this silly person must be misinformed, but upon looking up his name online, I discovered he works in the nuclear industry. FITs are not so good for people with vested interests in nuclear as FITs enable countries to get by without nuclear plants.

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