20. JAPAN TO BRING BACK SOLAR POWER SUBSIDY FOR HOMES
Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:07am EST
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan plans to bring back subsidies for solar panel equipment from January, theMinistry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Wednesday, as the world's fifth-biggest emitter strugglesto cut its greenhouse gas emissions.
METI said the government would offer 9 billion yen ($99.6 million) in the first quarter of 2009 and possiblymore in the fiscal year starting next April to foster use of solar panel equipment in homes.
To meet its long-term goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60-80 percent from current levels by2050, the government aims to have more than 70 percent of newly built houses equipped with solarpanels by 2020.
The government has seen domestic solar demand dry up after it pulled the plug on subsidies in March2006, hurting solar panel makers' ability to invest in research and expansion abroad.
Japan's greenhouse gas emissions hit a record high in the year that ended in March, putting it at risk ofmissing its Kyoto Protocol target over the next four years of cutting emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels.
METI said the government would offer a subsidy of 70,000 yen per kilowatt of equipment to be installednext year, and forecast that about 35,000 applications would be filed between January 13 and March 31.Government budget proposals for the fiscal year starting in April also include 20 billion yen worth of solarsubsidies that could be offered from April 1, METI officials said. Analysts say Tokyo's 2006 decision toscrap solar subsidies helped Germany's Q-Cells AG overtake Japan's Sharp Corp as the No.1 supplier ofsolar cells, while China's Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd has nudged out Kyocera Corp for third place inthe market.
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