The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) has produced a new technological development policy entitled NEDO PV Challenges 2020 to establish a strategy for the smooth large-scale adoption of solar power generation by society. The policy, which sets a strategy for contributing to a decarbonized society and for identifying new research and development domains to achieve the mass adoption of solar power by 2050, poses challenges including the generation of new high value-added business, the identification of geographical and power grid constraints, improved safety, the building of a cyclical society (including reliability and recycling), and the reduction of power generation costs. The strategy is available for download on the NEDO website.
Identifying new R&D domains for mass solar adoption by 2050
Solar power use has accelerated since the adoption of the feed-in tariff (FIT) system that began in 2012. Since that time, the market environment has changed significantly, including a decline in price for solar power modules and an increase in market share by overseas companies offering competitive prices.
Given these conditions, the Government of Japan has declared they will aim to make renewable energy the primary power source under the 5th Strategic Energy Plan released in 2018. However, many challenges are emerging that must be overcome to build that society of the future.
Accordingly, NEDO has compiled a list of challenges to overcome for the smooth realization of the mass adoption of solar power by society, along with a list of possible technological solutions, in their NEDO PV Challenges 2020 report. The report is the first new strategy released by the organization since the NEDO PV Challenges report in 2014.
To prepare this new strategy, NEDO listed both current challenges being faced and new challenges in preparation for 2050. The report also reevaluates the value of solar power generation to comprehensively consider the necessary challenges for further power generation cost reduction and the mass adoption of solar power by society. A view towards generating new industry and markets was also included in consideration of the strengths of Japan’s solar power industry.
The first point of the strategy covers the creation of new value-added business and emerging geographical and power grid constraints. This includes expanding the scope of the solar power industry by diversifying the approaches to solar adoption and developing new areas of application such as external building walls, use on roofs with weight load limitations, and use on mobile platforms such as vehicles. Meanwhile, it calls for the generation of new value, such as using solar power to extend the range of vehicles or reduce the number of times they need recharging. The report also calls for work on proactively alleviating grid impact through supply adjustment considering the variable nature of solar power generation.
The second point is improved safety and the building of a cyclical society, including factors of reliability and recycling. To date, damage has been caused to solar power generation facilities through wind and water damage and through fires caused by equipment malfunction, showing a need for improved safety. The report also calls for the development of systems for a cyclical society, covering elements such as improved reliability and recycling, to achieve long term stability for solar as a power source.
The third point is the reduction of power generation costs. The report notes that the development of solar power systems that meet the requirements of different markets is important for opening up new markets. As the requirements and cost standards are different for each market, different performance and cost indicators should be established for each to promote technological development that meets the demands of each market.
The report also looked for markets in Japan where the expanded adoption of solar power may be expected as a result of new technology development and adoption in society by 2050. The report found six new markets of particular focus for technology development, including solar installation on building walls, on roofs with weight-load limitations, on moving platforms (cars), on detached homes (Net Zero Energy Houses, or ZEH), over water, and on farmland.
Each of these markets is an area which has not seen significant solar power adoption in Japan to date, and will require the development of new technology, such as new types of solar panels, to apply the use of solar power.