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Small businesses and homeowners in Japan sold an amazing 2,150 gigawatt hours of solar energy back to utilities last year – a figure that shows a fifty percent increase since 2010. The surge in solar is thanks to a plan by the Japanese government to push the private installation of solar panels to power homes and feed the grid. Japan’s 10 regional power companies spent a whopping $1.2 billion purchasing the clean energy from consumers this year.
After the Fukushima nuclear crisis last year and the ongoing issues that have arisen because of it, Japan has set to work on changing their energy policy to rely less heavily on nuclear power generation. In 2010, power companies bought just 1,400 gigawatt hours of surplus solar energy, so it seems the government’s push is working.
For now power companies pay 61 cents (48 yen) per kilowatt-hour of energy purchased from an owner with fewer than 10 kilowatts and 30 cents (24 cents) for owners of larger arrays. The pricing scheme is set to change in July, but the panel of experts who will rework the system has not yet been assembled. There has been talk of power companies only being required to buy power back from smaller arrays, but for now nothing is set in stone – and small Japanese solar power plants are sending green energy into the grid and getting a nice paycheck in return.