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Japan Approves 19GW of Commercial Solar in 2012 After Incentives

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Japan approved almost 19,000 megawatts of non-residential solar applications by the end of the 2012 fiscal year, as part of the nation’s incentive program for clean energy started in July that year.

The country approved a total 21,090 megawatts of clean energy projects, including 18,681 megawatts of non-residential solar, data released today by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed. The approved projects also include residential solar, wind and biomass.

Japan is projected to add the most solar capacity in the world this year, boosted by above-market rates for clean energy. The country is trying to diversify its energy sources after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

Japan added 2,079 megawatts of clean energy capacity -- mostly solar -- in the fiscal year ended March 31, to a base of about 20,000 megawatts, according to the ministry. In the two months to May 31, Japan added another 1,280 megawatts, it said.

In March, applications for non-residential solar such as utility-scale power plants and panels on factory rooftops jumped to 7,669 megawatts, as developers rushed to file before the incentives were cut from April. That compared with applications worth 5,263 megawatts in February and 1,892 megawatts in January, according to the ministry data.

Beginning April 1, the solar tariff payable by utilities was reduced to 37.8 yen (39 cents) per kilowatt hour for 20 years, from 42 yen per kilowatt hour, reflecting lower equipment and construction costs.

Clean energy producers need approval from both the trade ministry and local utilities to qualify for the incentives.

Japan may add between 6,900 and 9,400 megawatts of solar capacity this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in June.

The ministry plans to conduct a survey on delayed non-residential projects as some of them have yet to start construction after getting approval, according to its statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at cwatanabe5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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