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I expect that the bulk of world production of photovoltaics will head to Japan, and that the resultant profit taking from homeowners will delegimtise the very idea of FiTs quite badly (in Japan) Even as a crash Money-is-little-object programme, this is badly designed policy.

Just flat out purchasing enormous quantities of panels and then hireing people to put them up would have been much more economically efficient, far less inequitable and have the same virtue of market making and upscaling of production used to justify FiT's.

by Thomas on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 05:27:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the resultant profit taking from homeowners will delegimtise the very idea of FiTs quite badly (in Japan)

I still don't get why you think the (intended) profit-taking by renewables installers is supposed to be delegitimizing, nor do I understand why you focus on PV-installing homeowners only when Japan's feed-in law disfavours them (with the 10-year guarantee in place of the general 20-year one while the rate is the same, see upthread).

Regarding the explicit intention to give renewables installers good profits:

New feed-in tariff system a rush to get renewables in play | The Japan Times Online

There is a specific section in the new tariff law that calls on METI to aim for large-scale renewable energy use over the first three years of the new tariff. To accomplish this goal, the law adds, METI is supposed to give special consideration to the profits of renewable energy suppliers.

Thus it is hoped high tariffs will encourage large-scale investment by current and new players in the renewable energy field, especially since the internal rates of return under the new system range from 4 percent for some biomass forms to 13 percent for geothermal, 8 percent for wind farms over 20 kw, and between 3.2 and 6 percent for solar.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 05:38:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the profits come out of the pockets of consumers? Massive electricity rate hikes are not going to be popular. If this doesnt happen because the government decides to run the utilities at an ongoing loss, then sure, massively popular policy!
by Thomas on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 05:39:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the profits come out of the pockets of consumers?

So what? On the other hand, I read of no similar exceptions for industrial consumers as in Germany.

Massive electricity rate hikes

Again with the strawmen...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 05:47:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I see the problem. I am clearly expecting something along the lines of a full order of magnitude more solar to get installed as a result of this policy than you are. Thus I am expecting far larger impacts on electricity prices and so on. Should really put some numbers on this, I suppose. Try to get that done by tonight.
by Thomas on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 05:50:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[Re-calculation after checking some figures]

I expect something in the order of 50 GW at most (and 20 GW more realistically) until 30 June 2015. Last year, when installed capacity jumped from 3.6 to 4.7 GW, 2.15 TWh was fed back (and 2.25 TWh produced). Not an awfully high capacity factor, and indeed IEA-PVPS claims 1,000-1,1000 kWh per kW is "typical" (I guess clouds plax a role). Going with that, I would expect at most 55 TWh and more realistically 20 TWh annual production from what gets installed under the launch feed-in rates, that would be c. 5% resp. 1.8% of total production. For a significant price effect of a ¥42/kwh feed-in rate vs. retail prices in the ¥11.5-23.1/kwh range (from winter high-voltage industrial to large-consumption household, 2008 TEPCO figures quoted by IEA-PVPS) that negates the benefits via marginal pricing (which should be substantial due to the "peak-shaving" daily power curve), I think something well above 10% of annual production would be needed.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 10:14:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Global annual production capacity for solar cell production is currently somewhere in the region of 60 gw/year, (Google hits cannot seem to agree on an exact figure)  which was an overcapacity of about 100 %.

 Given Japanese household savings levels, and the impressive return on investment, that the islands of japan not could buy the entire 30 gw of potential production currently going without customers, but outbid other markets for the lion share of the entire global output and cause expansion of productive capacity. And I think they will. Further, given a market, said manufacturing capacity has increased by over 100% year-on-year before.
 so.. eh, might very well hit 50 gw rated capacity by year end. If this doesnt cause the government to slam on the breakes somewhere in the region of 400 GW (rated) at law expiry would not shatter the supply chain, nor exceed what japanese construction firms can manage to put up. This is just solar, mind.

by Thomas on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 12:35:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ugh. That was horrible. Where the heck is the edit button?

Cleaner:

Global production capacity for solar volatic elements is currently around 60 gw (rated). About half of this productive capacity is in search of buyers.

The japanese government just gave them a market for the entirety of this potential output, and the average japanese household can make this investment without having to loan the money. I expect them to do so, because the return is so very high. Further, productive capacity in this sector has doubled year-on-year to meet new demands before. It is not a strech to suppose this will happen again. Thus, by the time the law expires, it within the realm of physical and engineering possibility that over 400 gw (Rated) of solar has been put up in japan. And as long as the law is on the books, financial incentives make this maximalist scenario quite likely. This is just the solar sector - sales of windmills and so on to Japan are also likely to be extremely strong.

by Thomas on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 12:49:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If such an extreme boom could be kicked off, I guess (1) degression would be imposed sooner than 3 years, (2) it would again speed up economies-of-scale cost reductions in the industry with global effect. However, I still don't think willing investors and the supply industry will grow from 1 GW/year to a 100 GW/year level overnight. Even if it's just about installing technicians: if German conditions are instructive (34,000 technicians among the 128,000 solar industry employees and 7.5 GW installed last year), that would require the training of 450,000 people.

What's more, I repeat that if we think of the specific investor circle of homeowners wanting rooftop solar, ¥42/kWh for just ten years (equivalent to c. €0.21/kWh over 20 years, ignoring maintenance costs and cell degradation) is not that stellar an offer, even with the somewhat higher annual yield per kW capacity than in Germany.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 02:23:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot to add: downthread I gave a ministry estimate of 150 GW as the PV potential of Japan on suitable surfaces. I think that cap translates into another istallation speed constraint, but assuming all these surfaces can be filled in three years, we are speaking about a ceiling of 165 TWh a year or c. 15% of consumption.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 24th, 2012 at 06:23:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Popular? As in Fukushima popular? Are nuke plants popular anywhere?
People will see panels everywhere and they'll get a whole new level of popular when they do the math and realise what a myth it is that we will always remain in peonage to utility companies for ever amen.

Quantities of energy fall unharvested that are vastly greater than our present consumption even with our hoggish and wasteful (ab)use patterns at this time.

We are standing thirsty in a clean river and being conned into buying dirty water to slake our needs.

There is zero need for further Fuku-traumatisation of entire regions with anachronistic technology now the cat is out of the bag.

Who ever regretted installing solar panels? Compare with Chernobyl survivors.

QED...

Worrying about who gets rich off of this is an unaffordable luxury. They should be in car rooves, bus stops, malls, hospitals, industrial areas, land too poisoned by our little 'experiments' for growing food or living on.
Sadly that's a Lot. Of. Land.

The new combination PV/greenhouse combos coming out of China look like a great step forward to diminishing the transport costs of food and other vittles.

The wonder if the internet is how robust it is, through distributed nodes of data. It's a great metaphor for PV too. The more people do it the less the strain on the grid.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 06:52:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The best case senario is that FiT payments bankrupt the utilities, they get nationalized, and fit payments are maintained by printing the money, and this thus turns out to be a way to boost the purchasing power of the average Japanese family. This is kind of an implausible chain of events, tough, and still screws people who do not happen to own a roof.
by Thomas on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 05:38:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Come on, no way enough reneables will be installed in three years to significantly impact electricity proces, not to mention that utilities would only go bankrupt if there are price controls...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 05:42:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just flat out purchasing enormous quantities of panels and then hireing people to put them up would have been much more economically efficient

No, that would eliminate competition between producers and thus development and thus limit economic efficiency. Also, it would be in a higher danger of a future government undoing it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 05:41:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the serious overcapacity at PV solar producers, I think that that is unlikely.

Also, there are a number of variations here that could have been used that would limit this even more.  

While PV isn't competitive with other sources in terms of generation costs, its generation costs are competitive for self consumption because this type of production avoids the distribution charge.  Noting this, why not focus on that strength as the basis for a campaign.  For example, installing solar street lights not only saves cities the cost of generation+distribution charges, they limit the need for building and maintaining infrastructure for this purpose. Again because self-supply evades the distribution charge, another good policy might would be to cover the roofs government buildings, schools, etc with panels to limit the amount of power they draw from the grid.  The focus has to be on the margin.

The costs of distribution + infrastructure construction/upkeep mean that for isolated communities taking them off the grid might actually make economic sense because dropping these areas where the marginal costs of distribution are particularly high can lower distribution costs throughout the rest of the grid.  While it may seem to be a step backwards to take rural areas off the electrical grid, it could very well be that because the marginal costs of delivering electricity to these areas is so high that it would actually save utilities money to remove them from the grid while maintaining a duty of service, albeit through local systems.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Jun 24th, 2012 at 02:16:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is unlikely and is limited even more?

PV can be competitive with other sources in terms of generation costs during daily peaks, just when it gives most (the market effect currently observed in Germany), but good point about saving the distribution charge with self-consumption. On one hand, self-consumption can be enhanced by focusing on rooftop solar (both rsidential and industrial), though the Japanese feed-in law doesn't focus on that. On the other hand, if surplus cannot be fed into the grid, then generated electricity will be wasted or needs storage, and in both cases real generation costs will increase, so grid connection is a key. I have nothing against solar streetlights, but they are beans compared to total consumption, hardly something to be the main focus.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jun 24th, 2012 at 05:08:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aging battery packs from electric vehicles could provide useful service as storage for daytime peak loads of home solar systems - provided there were adequate safety measures taken.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 24th, 2012 at 09:30:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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