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Japan's METI Proposes to Escalate Solar Power System's Safety Levels

published: 2016-04-08 19:05

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) held the twelfth Electric Power Safety Subcommittee meeting on March 22nd, and drafted a new safety proposal of solar power generating facilities. In the future, proposed the draft, systems capacity that are below 50kW, 50~2,000kW, or above 2,000kW shall conduct different levels of safety inspection according its own category, respectively. Moreover, systems that are above 50kW shall submit accident reports in the future.

In 2015, Japan had multitude cases of solar power generating facility damages due to natural disasters. For example, in September, heavy rain caused Kinugawa River's levee to break, and solar plants of up to 800kW was destroyed. Natural calamity might cause the following damages: scattered modules, tilted or collapsed mounting systems, or flood-submerged components. Therefore, public safety is at risk.

Middle- and small-sized systems with capacity of 2,000kW or under had never been requested to submit accident reports in the past, but these system have been severely affected by natural disasters during the past few years. Since safety check system started to have loopholes, METI drafted a new proposal in order to shut off any loopholes in the safety check system.

The new draft proposal included six aspects:

  • Set up standard values for new technology inspection standard measures. Research and come up with a simple safety proposal
  • Enhance verify measures before system operating
  • Implement safety proposals that installers should thoroughly understand
  • Enhance accident reports
  • Verify the condition of how FIT-qualified facilities are set up and operated. Handle any projects with violation of regulations
  • Give extra incentives for operators that operate and maintain their systems completely and well

Last year, PV systems with capacity ranged from 500 ~ 2,000kW had massive scattered module accidents. Therefore, the subcommittee specially asked system operators that have any project's overall PV installation in this range are obligated to self-verify whether its system complies with related regulations before formally activating he entire system. Meanwhile, they must submit reports.

Previous regulations request that system operators whose system capacity is above 500kW shall submit accident reports when there are damages or scenarios that are going to affect safety. New regulations are intended to adjust the rules to: system operators whose system capacity is above 50kW shall actively submit reports when modules are scattered.

 (Image: Heavy rain caused Kinugawa River's levee to break, and solar plants were damaged. Source: METI public information.)

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