Solar Subsidies in Japan and Australia Fall Short of Goals
Japan’s subsidies for home solar panels appealed to fewer applicants than planned, although greater spending on solar power systems is expected to be a key feature of Japan’s new stimulus plan, with fiscal spending of up to $150 billion, according to Reuters. Solar power is said to be the most costly among clean energy resources in Japan.
Japan is expected to increase its solar power capacity 20-fold by 2020 from 2005 levels, which is double its previous target. In January, the government introduced a subsidy of 70,000 yen ($700) per kilowatt of solar panel equipment, targeting about 35,000 applications in the January-March quarter; however, the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association shows only 21,653 applications, reported Reuters.
Reuters also noted that the government budgeted 9 billion yen for its subsidies over the three-month period and also announced an additional 20 billion yen for the financial year that began April 1, aiming for 120,000 applications over the 15 months. In addition, many local governments are providing subsidies for solar power to supplement programs announced by the central government.
In Australia, the government is pushing through a carbon trading scheme that aims for a reduction of carbon emissions by five percent of 2000 levels by 2020, and sets a target of 20 percent green energy by 2020. But supporters believe limiting the most “generous rebates” for renewables to the first 1,500 watts of capacity, or about half the minimum of the 3,000-5,000 watts used by the average Australian home, won’t drive large system installations, reported Reuters.
Currently, solar power generates less than one percent of Australia’s electricity. Supporters told Reuters that Australia needs to adopt a nationwide feed-in tariff structure that would allow users to generate revenue by selling excess power back to the grid, similar to Germany’s feed-in tariffs that increased its solar power installations by 11 fold.
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