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Japan's first inter-regional transfer of excess solar power

Tokyo

JAPAN transferred excess renewable energy supplies between two of its electricity regions for the first time since a major shakeup of its power sector, the country's grid monitor told Reuters.

The transfer of excess solar power supplies from the island of Kyushu to Japan's main island of Honshu signals an increase in flexibility in the country's previously regionalised electricity grid as the market opens up to competition.

Kyushu Electric Power transferred up to 1.125 gigawatts on Monday to five utilities including Kansai Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power after approval from the grid monitor known as OCCTO. It was the first transfer since OCCTO was set up in 2015 to monitor the country's electricity grid after the government stripped big power utilities of their regional monopolies and opened the US$70 billion retail power market to hundreds of new entrants.

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The reforms came in the aftermath of Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster, when an earthquake and tsunami led to nuclear meltdowns and widespread power outages, and included a government-mandated boost to renewable energy supplies.

Solar power has grown particularly fast on the island of Kyushu, where Kyushu Electric operates, because of plentiful sunshine and available land.

The old regional monopolies, which were left in control of the main transmission grids, however, complained that renewables could lead to grid instability and said interconnections between their networks could not cope with large transfers. REUTERS