Focus mainly on Japan and Asia -- Enter Toyota Tsusho

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Toyota Tsusho Corporation's takeover of struggling Japanese developer Tomen (Windpower Monthly, February 2003) will see it become one of the biggest wind power developers in the world. A trading company of car manufacturer Toyota, Toyota Tsusho is already an active wind developer in Japan with 37.3 MW operating and an 8-9% share of the wind market. Toyota Tsusho plans to double that share, aiming to get some 600 MW of domestic development under its belt by 2010.

In projects under its sole control, Toyota Tsusho hopes to produce 10% of the 3000 MW wind generated electricity Japan is aiming for by 2010. At the same time, its goal is for a further 10% to be produced in joint-ventures with the soon to be privatised state owned Electric Power Development Co (EPDC), with which it also hopes to work with on overseas projects, confirms Toyota Tsusho's Teruyuki Mori. The company, he says, is looking to develop several Japanese wind projects with EPDC after 2004 in the 20-30 MW size range, but he notes they will co-operate on a case by case basis.

The two companies are already working together via their 50:50 joint venture, J Wind, the project management company overseeing development of two Vestas 850 kW turbines on Tokyo Bay's waterfront, due online this month. Both companies also own a share in Wind Alpha Corp, a wind turbine maintenance company. EDPC owns 34% and Toyota Tsusho has a 15% share. The remaining 51% is owned by Vestech Japan, the Japanese agent for Vestas and a company in which Toyota Tsusho also holds 51%.

Working even closer with EPDC in the future makes strategic sense, Mori says. EPDC is already one of the largest wind developers in Japan, with around 55 MW operating and a 21 MW project in development. It also has extensive experience in the electricity business and good relations with utility companies. A key strategic aim of Toyota Tsusho is to be a main player in all parts of the wind development industry and to form alliances with the best companies in each stage of the value chain. "We want to help to develop the wind industry. If we do everything ourselves, we will compete with Vestech's customers," Mori adds.

The acquisition of Tomen will also give Toyota Tsusho a 50% share in wind developer Eurus. The other 50% is owned by Japanese utility, Tokyo Electric Power. To date, Eurus has mainly used Bonus wind turbines for its projects but it has recently used some Vestas turbines supplied by Vestech. "We would like to sell more turbines to Eurus," says Mori. "However, we have to compete on price and technology."

Vestech claims to have supplied 142 turbines with a combined capacity of 204 MW to the Japanese market, though far from all of this is yet operating. It says it plans to install turbines in six projects with a combined capacity of 84.25 MW this year.

Korea and China

Toyota Tsusho is producing wind turbine towers in South Korea and China in order to reduce costs and, Mori says, the company would like to explore the possibility of establishing more local production facilities in Asia. "Competition in the wind power industry is very tough," he notes.

The company is also looking at the options in Taiwan, but more in relation to the possibility of establishing a sales, distribution and after sales service company (similar to Vestech Japan) for Vestas wind turbines. A decision on Taiwan will, Mori says, be taken as soon as the Taiwanese government clarifies its position on subsidies for wind energy development. To date the country only has a few small turbines installed, but "there is a lot of wind on that island," notes Mori. Industry speculation is that the potential target for wind capacity in Taiwan by 2010 could be between 300-900 MW, which is 10-30% of the 3000 MW planned for Japan in the same timeframe.

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