Japan's Growth in Solar Power Falters as Utilities Balk

By JONATHAN SOBLE for NY Times:  Rice fields, golf courses and even a disused airport runway. All over the southern Japanese region of Kyushu, unexpected places gleam with electricity-producing solar panels.
 
Solar use in Japan has exploded over the last two years as part of an ambitious national effort to promote renewable energy. But the technology’s future role is now in doubt.
 
Utilities say their infrastructure cannot handle the swelling army of solar entrepreneurs intent on selling their power. And their willingness to invest more money depends heavily on whether the government remains committed to clean energy.
 
“It’s upsetting,” said Junji Akagi, a real estate developer on Ukushima, a tiny island near Nagasaki. Mr. Akagi said he hoped to turn a quarter of the island’s 10-square-mile area into a “mega-solar” generating station, and has already lined up investors and secured the necessary land.
 
Then last September, Kyushu Electric Power Company, the region’s dominant utility, abruptly announced that it would stop contracting to buy electricity from new solar installations. Other power companies elsewhere in Japan soon followed suit.

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