Solar PV in Germany and Japan: a catch-up game

Germany is widely perceived as a world leader in introducing renewable energy whereas Japan is lagging behind. What is behind this difference? This snippet does not offer any explanations but simply compares the historic data on solar PV electricity across three periods:

The first period was in the 1990s when commercial use of solar (PV) electricity, albeit on a very small scales, already existed in both countries. In 1992, Japan had 6,5 times more solar PV capacity than Germany and this ratio remained unchanged until 1999 while the cumulative capacity in both countries increased roughly 10 times (with average growth 40% per year in Germany and 41% per year in Japan).

In the 2000s, the installation of solar PV in Germany grew on average at 80% per year (a 100-fold increase in a decade). It caught up with Japan in 2004 and by 2011 had a 5 times larger capacity. In Japan, solar PV installations grew at ca 31% per year increasing about 20 times between 1999 and 2011.

Since 2011, the situation changed so that Japan's installations increased on average at 70% per year vs Germany's 16%. It is predicted that Japan will have more PV solar capacity installed than Germany in the next couple of years.

Installed solar PV capacity in Germany and Japan, 1992-2014 and 2015* forecast. 

Sources: IEA's snapshot of global PV markets 2014 and IEA's snapshot of global PV 1992-2013. Forecasts IHS Top Solar Power Industry Trends for 2015