Biomass to receive boost in Japan
Tuesday, Jun 13, 2017
Goldman Sachs Group (GSG) is planning to build 10 biomass power plants across Japan as it has become over-exposed to the country’s saturated solar market.

GSG subsidiary Japan Renewable Energy (JRE) intends to build biomass plants at sites primarily on the main island of Honshu and possibly on the island of Hokkaido, although no official announcement on sites selected has yet been made.

When complete, initial investment is expected to reach 40 billion yen (US365 million), with eventual capacity generated anticipated at 70 MW.

Tokyo-based JRE earlier this month broke ground at its first biomass plant to the northeast of Tokyo in Kamisu, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Located on a brownfield site, the 24.4-MW woodchip burning facility will generate 200 million kWh per year. Construction is expected to take two years at a total cost of 10 billion yen (US$90.8 million).

New York based Goldman Sachs founded JRE during a renewable energy investment drive in 2012, and over the past five years has constructed or run 27 large scale solar plants and two wind farms.

The last 12 months, however, has seen Japan’s central government drastically reduce once world leading wind and solar feed-in tariffs across the country to such an extent that solar energy generated today will fetch just half as much as in 2012.

As a result, with biomass power generation not overly dependent in the climate and with biomass FiTs for energy generated remaining high, Tokyo is looking to triple existing biomass generation levels to 7.28 million kWh 2030.

Other household names in Japan currently heavily invested in solar but looking to move into biomass include global leasing company Orix, which at present operates over 100 megasolar facilities around the country.
According to Yuichi Nishigori, head of the energy and eco-services business division at Orix, the company is looking to develop both geothermal and biomass plants in the years ahead.

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