The Japan Sustainable Energy Council (JSEC, Secretariat: Minato-ku, Tokyo), an industry organization of solar power producers, was established Feb 27, 2019. About 150 corporations and individuals supported the formation of the council. Takayuki Higashihara, who is responsible for the development of solar power plants connected to extra-high- and high-voltage transmission lines at Yamasa Co Ltd (Niimi City, Okayama Prefecture), assumed the post of representative director.

In the latter half of the interview, we asked Higashihara about the challenges facing solar power producers and ideal situations after the end of the FIT scheme (Related article: JSEC: We Want Gov't to Know Actual Situation of Renewable Energy Producers (Part 1)).

Power generation should continue for more than 20 years by additional investment

Q: The government announced a policy to set "renewable energies as main power sources," and the position of solar power has been improving in particular. What are the challenges of power producers in actually changing solar power to a main power source?

Takayuki Higashihara, representative director of the Japan Sustainable Energy Council (JSEC) (picture: Meiki Shimizu)

Higashihara: The biggest theme for the future of solar power producers is "to be independent from the FIT scheme," which is the "responsibility" or "mission" of power producers, rather than the theme. If the mega solar power plants that were realized by the financial support of people stop power generation immediately after the end of the FIT scheme, the 20 years of support will be meaningless.

Mega solar power plants significantly affect national energy policies because they are large in the output scale. The issue of the surcharge is sometimes emphasized, but the public burden will be reduced gradually if the plants continue to generate power for 40 or 50 years after the end of the 20-year FIT scheme period.

The important point is to continue the operation for more than 20 years once a mega solar power plant is constructed and put into operation. Inspections and maintenance after start of operation are important to realize the above.

This is my personal opinion, but it will be ideal if power plants are inspected about 10 years after the start of operation under a system similar to the vehicle inspection system so that prospects for power generation with a certain level of feasibility after the end of the FIT period are ensured for the plants that pass the inspection. Then, additional investments in early stages, assuming generation of power for more than 20 years, will be possible.