Energy Storage

Japan Mulling $800 Million Stimulus for Battery Storage and Efficiency

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) is considering a proposal for a stimulus package that would allocate ¥93 billion (about $779 million) to support installations of energy storage systems by industrial, commercial, and residential customers, as well as a variety of energy efficiency measures, according to a report in Bloomberg.

The METI proposal, which is not yet final, would be included in a supplementary budget measure for the year ending March 31. The budget still needs to be approved by the Japanese parliament. The amount would dwarf the $300 million allocated for storage initiatives last year.

Japan has made a big push to increase its solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in recent years—its cumulative total at the end of 2014 was around 20 GW—a drive that has caused major headaches for the country’s utilities. Part of the problem is that interconnections between individual utility grids are limited, which handicaps their ability to balance supply and demand nationwide.

Last year, five of the utilities refused to sign further solar power purchase agreements because of regulations that did not allow them to curtail output from small (<500 kW) PV systems. METI resolved the impasse in December by introducing a new rule allowing curtailments if production exceeds the transmission capacity of the utility grid.

METI has supported several grid-scale storage initiatives in the past, including a 15-MW, 60-MWh redox-flow battery system in Hokkaido due to come online this year, but this would be a major increase in support for distributed storage resources. Adding such small-scale storage could help reduce the need for curtailments.

—Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER associate editor (@thomas_overton, @POWERmagazine).

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