Japan plans to expand solar power generation by offering higher subsidies for capacity installed in schools, hospitals and railway stations.
The trade ministry plans to pay half the cost of panels and installations starting April, compared with about 33 percent now, Toshikazu Masuyama, a director at the Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Department, said today. The ministry is considering granting emission credits to companies that invest in building solar capacity at approved sites, he said.
Japan aims to increase solar capacity 40 times by 2030 and provides incentives to companies that invest in renewable energy. The government gives 70,000 yen ($715) per kilowatt of solar power installed in households. Schools and facilities run by municipalities aren't yet entitled to the benefits.
“The current subsidies, providing a third of the cost, aren't sexy'' for companies, Masuyama said.
Japan had 1.42 million kilowatts of solar capacity as of March 2007. The country plans to increase that capacity 10-fold by 2020.
“Just installing solar panels in households isn't enough,'' Masuyama said. “To achieve the target, we need to utilize roofs and places that larger-scale facilities have.''
Schools, highways and railway stations have “huge potential'' of contributing to the country's renewable energy goals, he said.