POWER UTILITY | Karen Mesina, Japan

Bankruptcies plague Japan's PV industry as solar goes bust

Businesses that have died surged 20.4% to 65 cases.

Solar industry isn't shining brightly in the Land of the Rising Sun as the number of banrkuptices in the PV industry in 2016 surged 20.4% to 65 cases according to a Tokyo Shoko Research. It was the highest number since the survey started as 10 PV companies went bankrupt in December 2016, marking the highest count in just a single month.

According to Atsushi Ito, president and CEO of solar IPP Next Energy & Resources Co., in Japan, 53% of pre-operation solar projects in the pipeline are at least 2MW in capacity. However, on operation ratio hovers at only 12%. Under conservative estimation, more than 13GW is in pre-operation stage among special high voltage projects.

Bankruptcies have become prevalent among Japan's solar industry players as these firms suffer from vague business strategies, bad sales, and capital scarcity, according to Tokyo Shoko Research.

In the future, Ito said in a conference at The World Smart Energy Week that the Japanese market will see PV-based electricity becoming cheaper. There will be further decrease in equipment costs and increase in operation efficiency. Secondly, the renewable energy levy will likely be doubled from JPY2.25/kWh in 2016 to JPY4-5/kWh in 2030. Lastly, PV-based electricity value will increase, shifting from "valueless FiT to environmental value-based electricity."

Jesse Pichel, managing director for investment banking at Roth Capital Partners said that according to GTM Research, global PV demand is expected to grow at an 8% compounded annual growth rate from 2016-2021.

"Given the rapid growth in years to come, project developers will require a variety of financing mechaisms to grant the projects," Pichel said in the same conference.

The World Smart Energy Week 2017 is currently being held from March 1 to 3, 2017 at Tokyo Big Sight, Japan.

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