Output Control Rate of 5% or Less, Real-time Control Are Essential, Expert Says (page 4)

2019/06/24 20:28
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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Purchase prices pushed up because of '30-day rule'

Q: METI finally began to discuss the legal requirements for grid connection of renewable energies, naming the requirements the "grid code." What do you think is the cause of the delay?

Yasuda: The number of renewable energy specialists who are familiar with power systems and the number of power system specialists who are familiar with renewable energies are extremely small in Japan. Because of this, human resources for bridging between renewable energies and power systems are insufficient. Human resources for bridging between them are abundant in overseas countries. Precisely speaking, these specialists exist in major power companies in Japan, but the number is limited and I believe their opinions did not reach management.

Under such circumstances, persons responsible for the policy were not aware of the importance of real-time control when the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme was introduced and installation started.

Q: The "30-day rule" and "output control of 8%" systems are far from the global standard.

Yasuda: It is important for renewable energy producers to know the maximum output control rate in advance to plan financing. They can work out business plans according to the rate, which is set at 5%, 8% and so forth. An extremely high rate of "8%" was set as the assumed rate in Japan and the rate was reflected in the finance costs, resulting in the high purchase prices. In that sense, the rate negatively affects the national economy, leading to the general public losing money.

In the first place, the control rate per "kWh" should be set as the target value, instead of the control rate per days or hours. If the rate is set assuming frequent real-time control, the above idea will be incorporated naturally.

Q: When we look back on the flow of the Grid Working Group, we felt that the WG intended to cool down the development of renewable energy facilities by making it difficult for developers to obtain financing by introducing the rule for designated power producers and increasing the output control rate.

Yasuda: The image of "output control equals evil" is partially attributable to the initial messages from the government and power producers, which raised concerns about the future. The image of output control was damaged because of their own messages. If advantages were fully explained by saying "output control of this level is required for large-scale introduction of renewable energies of this level" from the start, power producers would have accepted it more positively and cooperated with the government.

Q: The target value of 64GW (7% of all power sources) set for solar power in the Energy Mix is about to be achieved now, but the government cannot announce its vision on the further increase of renewable energies and solar power in the future, which is building a sense of distrust in the renewable energy policy. This situation tends to discourage the development of new facilities and strengthen the efforts to maximize the profit from existing power plants.

Yasuda: "Solutions" to the issues of nuclear power plants have yet to be found, and that brings about the situation where Japan cannot present a long-term vision of renewable energies. Because of this situation, the government cannot announce the target value for introduction of renewable energies in 2050 although it made an announcement on the policy to use renewable energies as "main power sources."

If it is impossible to find out "solutions" to the issues of the nuclear power plants for the time being, I believe the government can set a long-term goal for renewable energy introduction apart from the issues.

A renewable energy research institute in China announced a long-term goal to achieve "a renewable energy ratio of 90% in power sources in 2050." The remaining power will be supplied by nuclear power plants and coal-fired power plants at a ratio of 5%, respectively. The announcement was not made by the government, but the intentions of the government and the communist party seem to have been reflected in the announcement because it is a national research institute.

Countries throughout the world are making genuine efforts to restructure their power systems with renewable energies at the core. If target values are not announced for renewable energies beyond "22 to 24%" set for 2030, Japan will be stuck in the 20th century and be left behind other countries in power system technologies.