The thin-film manufacturer and developer Solar Frontier might be able to achieve grid parity in Japan with PV rooftop home solar systems and batteries in several years.

“We believe we can provide residential systems that are competitive with and soon-to-be cheaper than electricity from the grid. More precisely, we are aiming to bring the residential system price, currently averaging across the industry between 300,000 to 350,000 yen per kilowatt-peak, to 290,000 yen per kilowatt-peak by 2016. And including storage, we are targeting grid parity by 2018-2019,” explained Hideki Gakumazawa, general manager of communications for Solar Frontier.

So, that’s a very intriguing prospect, although if you trace the trajectory of decreasing solar costs and the emergence of more and more affordable energy storage solutions, you could also say it is somewhat inevitable. Perhaps most would have expected that the achievement of lower costs would take more time – decades perhaps.

One of the most fascinating things is the cross-pollination effect from one nation to another. In this case, from Germany to Japan, “The shift from FiT-driven markets toward “self-consumption” markets has already been taking place in countries such as Germany. So we are actually incorporating learnings in Japan from these markets, ” said Gakumazawa.

Another aspect of the self-consumption market is that consumers typically want convenience. There may be a number of “techies” that want to understand all the components of a home solar and storage system – maybe even purchasing their own components. However, many other consumers don’t want to do to that much legwork; they want to purchase one system where all the parts are already well-integrated and fully functional.

“Plug and play” is usually the most convenient option, and many consumers will pay more for a complete home solar and energy storage package with the least amount of hassle.

If home solar and energy storage systems wind up being cheaper than grid electricity, will owners of these systems in Japan be able to sell their electricity in an open market?