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The International Adoption of Photovoltaic Energy Conversion Is Japan a Lead Market?


  • Marian Beise

    (Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration (RIEB), Kobe University, Japan)


This paper explores on the basis of a case study on photovoltaic energy conversion (PV) whether countries can actively create a lead market for new technology. Solar energy conversion has fascinated people and politicians as an alternative to oil and nuclear energy. Since the discovery of photovoltaic cells that directly convert solar irradiation into electricity it is expected that the mass market for photovoltaic energy conversion will emerge soon. With lots of sunny, at and vacant regions and an electricity-hungry and high-income population, the United States looked to be the natural lead market for solar energy. Yet, two countries that are less favorably endowed with solar energy, Japan and Germany, embarked on establishing a mass market for solar energy conversion through high public subsidies. This paper discusses the prospect of these two countries to set off a bandwagon among all other nations? Reviewing the traditional mechanisms of the international diffusion of innovations, the tentative answer given in this paper is that while local markets have been created, this has not ensured the international success of PV. For its international success, it would be essential to demonstrate that the adoption of PV systems is continuing without subsidies. With the energy production cost of solar cells unlikely to come close to that of conventionally generated electricity in the foreseeable future, the United States looks like the test market for solar energy, where the fate of PV will be answered.

Suggested Citation

  • Marian Beise, 2004. "The International Adoption of Photovoltaic Energy Conversion Is Japan a Lead Market?," Discussion Paper Series 153, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
  • Handle: RePEc:kob:dpaper:153

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    Cited by:

    1. Zhang, Yu & Song, Junghyun & Hamori, Shigeyuki, 2011. "Impact of subsidy policies on diffusion of photovoltaic power generation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 1958-1964, April.
    2. Marian Beise, 2004. "Lead Markets, Innovation Differentials and Growth," Discussion Paper Series 157, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
    3. Karakaya, Emrah & Hidalgo, Antonio & Nuur, Cali, 2015. "Motivators for adoption of photovoltaic systems at grid parity: A case study from Southern Germany," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 1090-1098.
    4. Shum, Kwok L. & Watanabe, Chihiro, 2008. "Towards a local learning (innovation) model of solar photovoltaic deployment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 508-521, February.
    5. Paatero, Jukka V. & Lund, Peter D., 2007. "Effects of large-scale photovoltaic power integration on electricity distribution networks," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 216-234.

    More about this item


    Eco Innovations; International Diffusion; Photovoltaic;

    JEL classification:

    • L80 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - General
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives


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