Japan Revokes FIT-based Certification for 1st Time

Agricultural solar plants in Okinawa to be cut off from grid

2019/03/11 17:29
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), announced March 6, 2019, that it has revoked the certification of eight solar power plants certified based on the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme.

All of the eight plants have a grid capacity of less than 50kW and are located in Okinawa Prefecture. According to the materials that are related to certification and were publicized by METI, the plants were certified in February or July 2013. Four of them have already started operation while the other four have not been operated yet.

Four of the eight plants are run by a private company, and the other four are run by an individual. However, the individual is the representative of the company. So, they seem to be practically run by the same body.

The certification was revoked because the eight plants do not meet the certification criteria of the FIT policy. Specifically, METI applied Ordinance No. 46 under Article 5-2-3, which stipulates, "It is necessary to observe the rules of laws (including ordinances) necessary for smoothly and certainly carrying out renewable energy-based power generation businesses concerning the application for certification."

According to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, the fact that "they violated the Agricultural Land Law and Act Concerning Establishment of Agricultural Promotion Areas" does not conform to the criterion of "observing the rules of related laws."

Based on the law and act, it is not possible to reform land that is categorized as farmland and use it for purposes other than agriculture. To use it for a solar power generation (PV) business, it is necessary to submit an application for the diversion of agricultural land to, for example, an agricultural committee, and have it admitted.

The eight plants have employed a solar sharing (agricultural solar power plant) method, which grows crops under solar panels. However, in regard to the sites, they had not applied for the "diversion of agricultural land" or "temporal diversion," which is necessary for an agricultural solar plant, and had them admitted.