Sat, Oct 05, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Japan’s nuclear woes set to boost solar cell prices

Staff Writer, with CNA

Japan’s solar photovoltaic market will triple this year as the country faces a potential non-nuclear future, creating demand that will likely cause price hikes on the spot market, a local research firm said yesterday.

Japan is on track to install seven gigawatts of grid-connected solar power capacity this year, three times the amount it installed last year, said EnergyTrend, a solar research team at TrendForce Corp (集邦科技).

The country has been forced to accelerate its development of renewable energy sources because of the continued shutdown of most of its nuclear power plants and demand is expected to continue to rise, the research firm said.

Japanese solar cell demand last month was at least 20 percent higher than that in August, EnergyTrend said.

Taiwan is not likely to benefit much from this growing demand because Japan mainly imports cheaper solar panels from China, EnergyTrend analyst Aurthur Hsu (胥嘉政) said.

However, Taiwanese manufacturers could still benefit from rising global solar cell prices.

Taiwan’s solar cell exports to Japan totaled US$237.29 million in the first seven months of the year, up 166.15 percent from the same period a year ago, according to official data.

However, the growth came mostly from higher unit prices than higher export volumes, Hsu said.

Since the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011, operations at most of Japan’s nuclear power plants have been suspended, with the contribution of nuclear electricity generation falling from 33 percent in 2010 to 2.15 percent last year, EnergyTrend said.

The continued resistance to reopening the nuclear plants and higher electricity prices resulting from the use of imported fossil fuels to fill the power gap have prompted Japan to invest heavily in solar power.

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