Japan subsidizes solar power industry

Solar cells are seen at the Ukishima Solar Power Plant in Kawasaki city, Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo. The new government initiative could lift the land of the rising sun to second place among the world's solar energy markets.

Jeff Horwich: Attention U.S. solar industry: Japan is now open for business. The government just launched billions in subsidies to promote solar energy.

From the Marketplace sustainability desk, here's Scott Tong.

Scott Tong: It’s like Walmart the day after Thanksgiving: The Japan solar rush is on. Tokyo’s new subsidy pays homeowners and companies a high price for generating and selling solar energy. The program lasts 20 years.

How high a price? Double what the Germans pay, triple the Chinese price. Nathanial Bullard is with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Nathaniel Bullard: With the Japanese market offering such generous terms right now, it’s the potential for a real boom.

He thinks Japan’s market could leapfrog Italy for second largest in the world behind China. For consumers, a big new market stirs innovation for the world. Bullard thinks in a decade, we’ll build entire electricity systems from renewable sources. No grid.

Bullard: The question will be, not where do I connect to a conventional grid of the sort that you find in the United States and Europe, but rather, do I connect at all?

For now, solar companies from Germany and China compete with domestic firms in Japan. But the Americans will follow into the booming market. Land of the rising ... you know.

I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.


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