Monday, January 14, 2013

No. 72: Another step to the spread of fuel-cell vehicles (January 15, 2013)

Business trend:
JX Nippon Oil and Energy that operates 30% of nation’s gas stations started to consider building 40 stations for supplying hydrogen across the country by 2015 when Japanese automakers are scheduled to launch fuel-cell electric vehicles in full swing. In January 2011, a total of 13 companies in the fields of automotive and energy set a target of building 100 hydrogen filling stations throughout Japan by 2015.

At this moment, substantiative experiments are under way in more than 10 hydrogen filling stations. The company is operating three hydrogen filling stations in Tokyo, and will start to operate two stations that supply both gasoline and hydrogen coming February. The fuel-cell vehicle is the front-runner of the next-generation eco-car. A fuel-cell passenger car can travel 700 km per charge, and it takes only three minutes for charging that is about the same time required to fill gasoline to capacity of a gasoline-driven car.    
 A hydrogen filling station operated by Honda
 in the Tokyo Metropolitan area

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No. 71: Introduction of wind power generation increases for the first time in the past three years (January 9, 2013)

Business trend:
Japan Wind Power Association announced that the capacity of all new wind power plants scheduled to start operation in fiscal 2012 ending April 2013 will increase 8% over the preceding year to 92,000 kW, recording a year-on-year increase for the first time in the past three years. The system to purchase power generated by renewable energy at a fixed price started in July 2012. The estimated introduction of photovoltaic generation was 2,000,000 kW in 2012. That is, the introduction of wind power generation was less than one twentieth of the introduction of photovoltaic generation. This is because it takes longer to put a wind power plant into operation than a photovoltaic power plant.

Although the introduction of wind power generation recorded an increase for the first time in the past three years in 2012, it is one third of the level of introduction in the three years before 2010 when the government subsidized one third of initial investment for the introduction of a wind power plant. The total generation capacity of wind power generation as the end of 2012 was 2,610,000 kW. It is still a long way to go for the substantial spread of wind power generation.   

Wind power generation does not spread as fast as expected. 
In 2012, only 49 wind power plants started operation. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

No. 70: Japanese general trading companies participate in the renewable energy business worldwide (January 7, 2013)

Business trend:
Mitsubishi Corp. will invest 50% of the photovoltaic power plant run by the EDF group of France. Starting with this investment, the company plans joint management of the group’s photovoltaic power plants and offshore wind power plants. It wishes to strengthen the alliance with the EDF group and get know-how necessary to expand renewable energy business worldwide. At the same time, it plans to ask the EDF group for cooperation for its renewable energy projects.

Mitsui has decided to participate in the renewable energy business project by the Canadian subsidiary of GDF Suez S.A. of France. Marubeni has already allied with a Danish company in the offshore wind power project, and the two companies are now running an offshore wind power plant in Great Britain. Sumitomo Corp. and Itochu invested in the world’s largest wind generation plant that GE of the U.S. operates in the state of Oregon.   

A photovoltaic generation plant in Spain 
in which Mitsui invested 30%