At PV EXPO 2012, there were several signs indicating that there will be a radical change in the Japanese solar market in 2012. “Law on Special Measures Concerning Procurement of Renewable Energy Sourced Electricity by Electric Utilities,” which is scheduled to become effective in July 2012, states that Japan’s power companies are obligated to procure renewable power, including solar power, at a certain price. Therefore, the industry expects Japanese market’s focus to shift from household system to roof system and large power plant.
Given the future trend, aside from the high-efficiency cell and module for the solar roof system, most manufacturers chose mono-like products as the gateway to the large power plant market. The reason being: mono-like product’s conversion efficiency is higher than that of polysilicon products and its manufacturing cost is lower than that of monosilicon products . Among Taiwanese solar companies, the 60-panel solar module of NEO SOLAR POWER’s NeoMono and Gintech’s Hybrid Series can both reach 250Wp and above. Although the market acceptance of mono-like products’ yield rate, luminous decay and maple-like pattern still remains to be seen, with the power generation cost being the only focus, mono-like products’ prospects in the Japanese power plant market are looking up.
On the other hand, besides R&D breakthroughs for cell and module, some manufacturers also launched solutions for power plant system. For example, American company SunPower exhibited not only its high-efficiency module but also Single axis solar tracking system that is designed for the large solar system. The solar tracking system can increase the module’s power output and in turn reduce the required space for establishing a large power plant. According to SunPower, the new design can reduce the required space by 20% compared to the traditional module system.
The large solar system market in Japan, be it commercial system, roof system or power plant, is one of the major focuses for the solar companies in 2012. Every company hopes to make inroads into the market with their own competitive edge. For instance, Japanese makers hold the geographical advantages and put the emphasis on optimizing the power output with their strength in construction planning. As for foreign companies, on account of the difficulty to make way into the Japanese market, most companies focus on producing solar modules; certain upstream cell makers provide OEM service for the Japanese companies as their way to gain a position in Japan. Motech Solar, for example, owns a module plant in Japan in order to make the way into the Japanese large solar system market.