New System to Pay 20% More for Solar Power from Japan Businesses’ Rooftops

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Solar panels are seen on the roof of a commercial facility in Kitakyushu.

The economy ministry plans to introduce a system in which electric power generated by solar panels on the roofs of company buildings, factories and warehouses will be purchased at 20% higher prices than power generated from panels on the ground.

There are a limited number of places where solar panels can be installed, so the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry is aiming to encourage the proliferation of renewable energy sources through the use of roof space.

Solar power facilities have rapidly increased due to the system of purchasing electric power from them at fixed prices, a practice that began in 2012. Japan now has the world’s highest capacity of installed facilities for its land area, but the remaining land plots suitable for newly installing solar panels are small.

The new pricing system will start in October. From that point, the panels of solar power generation businesses that are certified by March 2025 and have at least 10 kilowatts of output capacity will be eligible.

If solar panels are installed on roofs, electric power from them will be purchased at ¥12 per kilowatt-hour. This is 20% higher than the ¥10 for power from panels on flat ground that have an output capacity between 10 kilowatts and less than 50 kilowatts.

It is sometimes necessary to build work scaffolds to install rooftop panels, or panels or parts when they are repaired. Installing panels on roofs is therefore more costly than doing it on the ground.

The costs of buying the power they produce will be passed on to electricity bills. However, “this will not put a heavy financial burden on the public,” a ministry official said, even if the new purchasing price is 20% higher.

In its energy basic plan compiled in 2021, the government stipulated that renewable energy will be made a main electric power source.