As Japan still struggles to contain leaks from its tsunami-wracked Fukushima nuclear plant, its alternative energy sector is growing rapidly to meet electricity demand. The island nation is poised to overtake Germany as the world’s largest solar revenue market this year.
In the first quarter of 2013, 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV systems were installed in Japan. Analysts expect to see $20 billion in PV installed this year, up 82 percent from $11 billion in 2012. The market could top out at 6.1 GW by year’s end. One GW can supply about a quarter million homes with electricity.
Japan’s energy reformers celebrate the solar boom as proof of the country’s smooth transition away from nuclear—technology deemed too dangerous after Fukushima’s meltdown. The country is projected to install solar capacity this year equivalent to five to seven nuclear plants.