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Japan Solar-Device Shipments to Exceed 2.5 Gigawatts in Year

Japan’s domestic shipments of solar-power devices will exceed 2.5 gigawatts in the year ending March 2013, said Mikio Katayama, chairman of the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association, at a press conference.

The increase in cells and modules follows a decision by Japan to start preferential rate payments for electricity generated from renewable sources in July to encourage investment in clean energy.

The start of the so-called feed-in tariff program is “the first step in the era of solar-power generation,” said Katayama, who is also the chairman of Sharp Corp. “The public and private sectors need to work together to increase solar power further.”

Producers of solar power will receive 42 yen (52 U.S. cents) a kilowatt-hour for 20 years, or three times the 13.65 yen charged to industrial and commercial users, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The government projects total capacity of solar power will increase 42 percent to about 6.8 gigawatts for the year ending March 31, 2013, which is enough to power about 1.65 million Japanese homes.

Katayama also said more than one million homes in Japan have installed solar panels on their roofs by April since 1994.

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