- Have incredibly expensive electricity. In fact, Japan has some of the most expensive grid power in the world (it must import almost all of its fossil fuel).
- Are incredibly reliant on nuclear power. Although this is changing rapidly. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Japan has scaled down its nuclear capacity. And California recently decommissioned the San Onofre power plant.
- Are global leaders in renewable energy. Both Japan and California have passed a number of supportive green policies designed to boost investment in cleaner forms of power generation.
This last point is important. Green incentives are largely responsible for Japan’s solar boom in Asia and California’s solar success in the States. These incentives make installing PV technology very affordable.
But in both regions, these solar incentives are set to expire. Some tax credits, rebates, and grants have already disappeared. More expirations are on the way.
Why Japan’s Solar Boom Is in Trouble
Although Japan doesn’t have California’s sunshine, its expensive electricity and generous incentives have helped turn this island nation into a solar powerhouse.
But as these incentives expire, there’s been a sudden rush of new solar applications (72,000 in March 2014 alone, which is more than all of the applications submitted in 2013).
On the surface, this is terrific news.
Japanese citizens and businesses are anxious to have solar technology installed on their properties. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get your paperwork in on time (before relevant solar deadlines approach).
But utilities can’t handle the surge in solar applications and installations.
Many people who desperately want to go solar are discovering that their payback periods and ROIs are at risk. Without incentives, they’ll have to pay full price for their installations. And worse still, they won’t be able to feed their excess electricity into the grid.
One local Japanese resident invested a whopping $200,000 in a 50-kilowatt solar installation, with plans to supplement his retirement earnings by monetizing his solar energy.
Unfortunately, he may have to push back his retirement or come up with another income stream.
Similar stories are cropping up all over Japan. The nation’s solar push was actually too successful.
An Important Solar Lesson If You Live in California
In California, solar incentives are rapidly disappearing as well. Some of these incentives have firm expiration dates (like the federal tax credit). Others have flexible expiration dates tied to quotas (like net metering).
Either way, the end result is the same:
- Early adopters receive the highest payouts and the strongest guarantees. They get grandfathered into existing programs – even if those programs expire in the future.
- Latecomers get priced out. Solar still makes environmental and financial sense. But they don’t receive the same benefits of installing photovoltaic panels on their properties.
The lesson in all of this is clear.
Go solar today before the free money runs out. By 2050, solar energy will be the world’s largest power source (eclipsing oil, gas, and coal). So sooner or later, nearly everyone will have panels installed on their homes and businesses.
Those who make the plunge today receive the shortest payback periods and the highest ROIs. They also end up paying the lowest costs (since their installations are heavily subsidized by local, state, and federal government agencies).
Retire earlier. Save more money. And go solar today.
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