Hokkaido Faces Grid Congestion With Solar Application Surplus

Developers of solar projects on Hokkaido are being forced to review their plans after the Japanese island’s sole utility received applications for large-scale solar plants that would exceed the grid’s capacity.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. officials have met with applicants to explain that it can’t add any more solar to its grid if projects are 2 megawatts or larger, Satoshi Takada, a spokesman for the utility, said in a phone interview.

By the end of March, applications for grid connections totaled 1,568 megawatts for plants of 2 megawatts or larger, according to an April 17 statement from the utility, which said it had capacity for only 400 megawatts.

The case highlights growing concern in Japan about transmitting power from renewable sources to the nation’s grid as the country expands solar installations following the July 2012 introduction of above-market rates for clean energy.

As one response, the Hokkaido utility plans to install a storage battery system at its Minami Hayakita substation in the southern town of Abira to stabilize the flow of solar power onto the grid, according to Takada.

Hokkaido is attracting the biggest share of Japan’s solar projects because it offers large patches of inexpensive land, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a statement April 17.

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