In 2017 the Civil Code, which was enacted in 1896, was substantially amended for the first time in more than a century. Although the amendments, which came into effect on 1 April 2020, cover a broad range of issues, many were made to reflect existing case law and commonly accepted interpretations of the pre-amended Civil Code. However, there are some changes which may affect current practices in the energy sector.
It appears inevitable that the coronavirus pandemic will affect Japan's solar energy industry. For example, China's public health measures may have an adverse effect on the shipment of photovoltaic modules and other equipment manufactured there, on which many Japanese developers rely. Further, if the government declares a national emergency, this may inhibit engineering, procurement and construction contractors' ability to perform their obligations to develop and construct solar projects.
Cabinet recently approved the Proposal to Amend the Electricity Business Act for the Purposes of Establishing a Resilient and Sustainable Electricity System. The bill introduces a feed-in premium programme, under which energy developers developing projects after April 2022 may receive a certain premium on top of the market price for the electricity that they generate.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism recently designated an area off the coast of Goto City as the first zone dedicated to the promotion of offshore wind projects under the Act Promoting the Use of Marine Areas for the Development of Marine Renewable Energy Generation Facilities. This designation is unique in that, of the 11 areas initially considered, Goto City was the only sea area where floating wind power generation was proposed.
Although Japan has significant offshore renewable energy output potential, a number of issues – both systemic and technological – have hindered efforts to develop its offshore renewable market. With the introduction of the Act on Promoting the Use of Marine Areas for the Development of Marine Renewable Energy Generation Facilities, the government aims to develop such offshore renewable energy capacity and encourage and facilitate the development of offshore renewable projects in Japan.