Japanese and US investment fund -- New developer-owner

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A conglomerate of large Japanese and US companies, including one headed by former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, have joined forces to form a wind development company in Japan called Green Power Investment Corporation (GPI). The new company will be headed by Toshio Hori, formerly of Tomen's wind business before it became Eurus Energy, who has been involved in the wind market for around 20 years.

GPI plans to focus initially on the Japanese market, says Hori, although it hopes to capitalise on opportunities elsewhere. According to GPI, it has already acquired several hundred megawatts of wind power capacity in various stages of development throughout Japan from a subsidiary of the UK's Renewable Energy Systems (RES). RES declines to comment. The RES acquisitions, says GPI, involve around ten projects, one of which -- a 12 MW wind plant in Shikoku Island -- is to start construction this month. The turbine supplier for this project has not been disclosed.

GPI shareholders include Giuliani-Sage, a joint venture investment firm established by America's Giuliani Partners and Sage Capital Global. Other shareholders are Japanese trading company Mitsubishi Corporation, Sumitomo Trust & Banking, and Sumisho Leasing.

The Giuliani-Sage investment exhibits the partnership's commitment to long term investments in the Japanese economy and to expanding its focus to the energy sector, says the company. "We are extremely pleased to be involved in projects in Japan that have a positive impact on the environment and have significant economic potential," comments Geoffrey Hess of Giuliani Partners.

GPI's initial share capital is valued at ´400 million ($3.7 million). The investors have agreed to supply additional funds, if necessary, for wind projects as they are scheduled. Giuliani-Sage has already committed up to ´50 billion ($465.8 million) and says this may expand to ´100 billion ($932 million).

Community owned

As part of its strategic plan, GPI wants to encourage community-owned wind farms in Japan and intends to invite local people to invest in dedicated wind funds for each project. Hori says he is optimistic the Japanese will welcome the initiative, citing the success of real estate investment funds among Japanese private investors.

While wind energy in Japan is in its infancy compared to the German and Spanish markets-with less than 0.1% of the country's electricity being supplied from wind power -- Hori and the GPI investors are banking on the market taking off substantially. The Japanese government requires electric utilities to source 1.35% of their total electricity supply from renewable sources of energy by 2010. Hori notes the target is relatively small, but says: "Even Japan will be forced to change its policy due to the Kyoto protocol and rising oil prices."

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