The new Reiwa era started in Japan on May 1, 2019, changed from the Heisei era at the time of enthronement of a new emperor. In the Showa era, which is the era before the Heisei era, PV power generation started from the stage of “technology development”, then advanced to “development of scheme to expand PV utilization” in the Heisei era, paving the path to the next development. The keyword for development from the Showa era to the Heisei era was “extension,” but the shift from the Heisei era to the Reiwa era may be accompanied by a great change. In the Reiwa era, PV will make dramatic progress by overcoming its weaknesses such as economic efficiency, variability as a power source, etc. Instead of sticking to stereotypes, it is necessary to make new business deployment focusing on the future vision of PV based on the power of the market and the global trends. The first year of the Reiwa era is the last year of the 2010s and it will be a good turning point from the Heisei era as a year of preparation and run-up toward a full-scale development in the 2020s.
Today, the cumulative PV installed capacity in Japan exceeded 50 GW. Furthermore, a large amount of residential PV systems will face the termination of the FIT purchase period in November 2019, and their integration with the power market will start. Assuming from the ability of the PV of today, it is expected that PV in the first ten years of the Reiwa era will enter a new growth stage as shown in Table 1. Unlike the growth so far, which had pursued quantity, PV is expected enter the stage of growth which pursues quality, corresponding to social changes such as decarbonization and liberalization of electricity. So far, the PV business in Japan had been based on the scale of new installations, but now that the cumulative installed capacity exceeded 50 GW, cumulative capacity, in other words the high amount of electricity produced by PV (kWh) and stability, will be the significant subjects of the PV business in addition to newly installed capacity (kW). Since there is a demand for long-term stable supply of electricity, the focus should be put on the role of the power generation business and the O&M business as well as the growing significance of the power supply business with integrated supply and demand that utilizes network and takes advantage of characteristics of PV being the distributed power source that can be also used both on a small and medium scale.
In this way, PV of the Reiwa era will not only play its role as just a power generation device but should aim to develop as an important component of the social system that corresponds to rationalization of power and energy supply/ demand, securement of the safety of society, decarbonization, etc.
The PV industry in Japan should cooperate closely with the national government, related industries and consumers, etc. to realize utilization of PV as a social system in Japan at first and aim to develop PV from a mainstream power source to a mainstream energy source. Moreover, such development should be made use in the rapidly growing overseas markets, which should become an axis of development for PV and the industry in the Reiwa era.