Seventeen of Japan's 47 prefectures have already decided on or are considering the enhancement of programs to promote solar power in the wake of the country's worst nuclear plant crisis in Fukushima, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.
While the nuclear crisis has accelerated moves to shift energy policy at the local level, many prefectural governments called for further steps on the part of the central government, such as improving a program for power utilities to buy excess electricity generated by solar and other renewable energy sources.
The survey conducted from late May to early June, which received responses from all 47 prefectures, found that 36 of them already had their own programs for the promotion of solar power generation, such as subsidies for the installation of solar panels, before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Of the 36, 16 have decided on or are considering the enhancement of their programs, while the Tokyo metropolitan government, which ended its subsidy program in March, has decided to newly create a similar program for homes.
In Kanagawa Prefecture, for example, a system under which residents would be able to install solar panels at no cost is being considered by a study group launched in May in line with new Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa's election pledge to have solar panels installed at 2 million homes.
The Chiba prefectural government has decided to subsidize the installation of solar panels not only by households but also firms, while Gunma and Yamanashi prefectures have augmented solar power-related budgets.
Of the 45 prefectures that said they already installed solar power panels at schools and other public facilities at their own expense, 12 are considering increasing the number of installations.
To help spread solar power, 46 prefectures called for a reduction in the initial costs of installing the panels, 30 sought more subsidies from the central government and 22 called for improving the energy purchase system such as by extending its 10-year time frame.
After Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced at a Group of Eight nations summit in May that Japan will aim to install solar panels at 10 million homes, the Osaka prefectural government demanded that the state present a precise plan at an early date.
(Mainichi Japan) June 20, 2011