by Cedric Brehaut, Solichamba
While new PV installations in Japan experienced slow growth in 2017 and are expected to decline in 2018 and beyond, the monitoring market is poised to follow a very different trajectory.
Historically, the adoption rate of remote monitoring solutions in Japan have been low for smaller plants. In their Global PV Monitoring 2017-2022 report, GTM Research and SOLICHAMBA estimate that only 10% of residential PV systems in Japan and 20% to 25% of commercial PV systems in the 50 to 500 kW capacity range.
This situation changed with the introduction of the 2017 FIT program updates. To receive (or retain) FIT certification, PV systems in Japan must now:
- Have regular inspections and proper maintenance to ensure production
- Report production and capacity at fixed intervals
- Participate in grid stability
For systems larger than 2 MW, owners had to submit a maintenance plan by September 2017 and are expected to implement it within two to three years.
In their report, GTM Research and SOLICHAMBA expect that these changes will increase the adoption rate to almost 100% over time, bolster the functionality of remote monitoring solutions, and create a massive retrofit market as owners of systems installed in prior years seek compliance to the new program rules. In addition, some commercial, industrial and utility-scale systems that had subpar monitoring systems may also get upgraded as owners prepare the newly required maintenance plans with O&M providers that depend on monitoring solutions to detect issues in a timely fashion.
These retrofits are largely expected to benefit Japanese monitoring providers: the GTM report also finds that the top five monitoring vendors are all Japanese companies (like leaders Laplace Systems and CONTEC), while only 3 of the top 10 players are foreign firms. These international monitoring companies, however, may find new momentum in the new owner and O&M requirements in Japan, which are now very similar to the needs of customers in other parts of the world.