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HD and 3D wallpapers for your desktop backgrounds, free download your favorite desktop wallpapers here! Japan's renewable energy incentive law has spurred construction of so many photovoltaic farms like this one, in Miyama, that the nation is expected to be the world's leading solar energy market this year. Hokkaido, Japan's second largest and northernmost island, is  known for its beautiful wild nature, delicious seafood, and fresh produce.
A new renewable energy incentive program has Japan on track to become the world's leading market for solar energy, leaping past China and Germany, with Hokkaido at the forefront of the sun power rush. Japan historically has had no fossil energy sources of its own; it powered much of its economic growth over the past few generations with homegrown nuclear energy. The second-worst nuclear energy accident in history displaced 70,000 people and saddled the nation with a long and difficult cleanup.
Due to opposition from local officials, all but two of Japan's nuclear power plants are now idle. Modeled after laws that spurred clean power in Europe, it ensures that generators of renewable energy are paid above-market rates for their electricity.
The policy, launched in July 2012, spurred a diverse array of businesses to get in on the solar energy game. While FIT is available for other forms of renewable energy, more than 90 percent of the 1.662 million kilowatts of renewable energy capacity in Japan (as of February, the most recent tally) was solar, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Domestic photovoltaic module shipments were up 271.3 percent compared to last year, according to the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association. While the FIT law obligates utilities to provide access to the grids and purchase all of the generated renewable power, there are provisions that allow them to restrict or deny access to ensure the stability of electricity supply.
With regional utilities planning to put their nuclear power plants back online, there is speculation that grid capacity alone may not be the reason for Hokkaido Electric's decision to limit its purchases of renewable energy. All are suffering losses due to skyrocketing fuel pricesa€”mostly for natural gasa€”while the nuclear stations are out of operation. Softbank, which now operates five renewable energy plants and has plans for nine more nationwide, has learned its project to build three large solar power plants in Hokkaido with a combined capacity of more than 180,000 kilowatts is on hold, as Hokkaido Electric hasn't specified which of the applicants will be allowed to connect to the grid. Experts have also pointed out a sharp discrepancy between the number of applications approved and the number of projects  actually started.
Trade ministry officials attribute the delay to a shortage of equipment due to the sudden burst in demand as well as the need to negotiate the grid access with the regional utility.
To address the issue of integrating solar energy onto the grid in Hokkaido, METI said it has set aside 29.6 billion yen (US$294 million) to install a large storage battery at Hokkaido Electric's Minami Hayakita substation by March 2015 to stabilize the flow of solar power onto the grid.
Hiroaki Fujii, executive deputy president of SB Energy, Softbank's group company operating the renewable energy business, said the grid issue is not just the utilities' fault. Since the Liberal Democratic Party returned to power late last year, Prime Minister Abe's government has dismissed the previous administration's aim to become nuclear-free by the 2030s. 12 years ago, Australian photographer Julie Fletcher exchanged her mundane job, failing romantic relationship, and comfortable Sydney city life for one of the remotest and tiniest towns in the country – Marree.

Being the only female landscape photographer in Australia was a major motivation for her to overcome the challenge of becoming one herself.
After taking thousands of landscape photographs, her work has been recognized by fellow photographers around the world, and some of her works have been published by National Geographic. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. From the marvellous spatuletail to a flightless parrot, see 12 award-winning pictures of birds most in danger of extinction. This "touching image" of two orange-bellied parrots won the category for critically endangered migrating birds, according to a World's Rarest Birds contest statement.The small parrot breeds only in southwestern Tasmania (see map) and migrates to southeastern Australia in the winter, where agriculture and development are crowding out its habitat. A "superb study" of a palila in Hawaii received sixth place in the "critically endangered or extinct in the wild" category, according to a World's Rarest Birds contest statement.Habitat loss, cat predation, and drought have contributed to the species' ongoing decline in its native Hawaii. The third place winner in the "endangered or data deficient" category is a picture of Peru's marvellous spatuletail. Now another specialty is taking root: Large-scale megasolar power plants that take advantage of the island's unique geography. In a densely populated nation hungry for alternative energy, Hokkaido is an obvious choice to host projects, because of the availability of relatively large patches of inexpensive land.
Although one-quarter of the largest solar projects approved under Japan's new renewables policy are located in Hokkaido, the island accounts for less than 3 percent of the nation's electricity demand. At the start of 2011, more than 50 reactors provided Japan with 30 percent of its electricity, and the plan was to increase that share to 50 percent. Electronics manufacturers Sharp and Kyocera and trading company Mitsui & Company have major projects open or under way. Alternatives like wind and geothermal take much more time and money to develop, and solar does not require the lengthy environmental assessments needed for wind farms.
In April, regional utility Hokkaido Electric Power said its ultra-high-voltage transmission system, onto which large PV systems are interconnected, has received four times as many applications as it could handle. The ten regional utilities enjoy a monopoly on regional power markets, basically operating separate transmission networks independently and rarely supplying electricity to other utilities even if their service areas are adjacent. According to a survey of companies involved in solar projects by the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation, 20 percent of the respondents said they were denied access by local utilities due to overcapacity, while 37 percent were told there would be limits to the amount of electricity that the utilities could accept. Four of the ten utilities, including Hokkaido Electric, submitted applications this summer to have their nuclear facilities examined for safety review and restart under new guidelines set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Only 4 percent of the 11 million kilowatts of large solar facilities that have been approved actually had started operations as of February. By installing the new battery, expected to be the world's largest with a storage capacity of 60 megawatts, the regional utility will be able to receive an additional 10 percent more electricity. While the government launched a study in January to discuss the nation's energy policy, a clear vision has yet to emerge.
Once the current line of projects is completed, there are concerns that this solar boom would not last long, as tariffs would be further lowered and available land would become scarce.

Her move helped her see the most spectacular and breath-taking landscapes in Australia and capture them with her camera.
However, she told Dailymail that being a lone traveling photographer is a lot more difficult than it seems.
The Asian crested ibis once thrived in Russia, Japan, and China, but its population has shrunk to about 250 in China's Shaanxi Province. One scientist says the reef has the most amazing animals shea€™s ever seen on an expedition. Unused industrial park areas, idle land inside a motor race circuit, a former horse rancha€”all are being converted to solar farms. Experts say Japan will need to act quickly to make sure the power generated in Hokkaido flows to where it is needed.
That scenario was upended on March 11, 2011, when the most powerful earthquake ever to shake Japan touched off a tsunami that breached the defenses of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the east coast.
In July, financial services company Orix said construction has started for a 21-megawatt solar power plant on idle land inside the Tokachi Speedway circuit in Sarabetsu, Hokkaido, in a spot that boasts one of the highest levels of sunlight in Japan.
METI statistics show that 11,012 megawatts of nonresidential photovoltaic projects have been approved between the start of the FIT policy and the beginning of this year, nearly half of them certified in February alone. This situation, which has yet to occur in other areas of Japan, highlights the need to revamp Japan's electricity system soon if renewable energy is to maintain its recent momentum. Further complicating the issue is a mismatch in line frequency: three of the ten grids covering eastern Japan, including Tokyo, use 50 hertz, while the seven covering western Japan use 60 hertz. Domestic media report that METI is considering retracting the permits if the applicant fails to launch the business in a set period of time. But responding to public criticism of the utilities' virtual monopoly on the power industry, the Abe cabinet decided in April to separate the transmission division from the utilities beginning in 2018 at the earliest, a move deemed necessary to address the grid issue. And that means modernizing a grid that currently doesn't have capacity for all the projects proposed, installing a giant batterya€”planned to be the world's largesta€”to store power when the sun isn't shining, and ensuring connections so power can flow across the island nation.
The number likely rose due to a rush of last-minute applications before a 10 percent reduction in the FIT rate went into effect in April. Only three frequency converter stations are located on the boundary between the two regions, with the ability to convert less than one percent of the nation's power generation capacity. The bill requires parliament's approval, however, and it was one of four pieces of administration-sponsored legislation scrapped amid political turmoil in Tokyo in June, when the Diet ended its regular legislative session by passing a nonbinding censure motion against Abe.
Winning images will be featured in the book The Worlda€™s Rarest Birds, to be published in 2012 by WILDGuides.The book's "key message is poignanta€”a large proportion of the world's birds, including every one depicted, is threatened with extinction," Andy Swash, managing director of WILDGuides, said in a statement. A leader in solar drive has been mobile carrier Softbank and its chief executive, the billionaire Masayoshi Son, who has advocated a total phaseout of nuclear power for Japan.

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