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Japan

Hoping for global credits market -- Major corporations snapping up wind

Green power marketer Japan Natural Energy Co (JNEC) has signed up 20 corporations for its wind generated electricity, including the highly profiled Sony and Toyota corporations. The companies will use a combined 25.5 million kWh of wind a year.

JNEC was established in November by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), which owns 51% of the company. Ten other companies are also part of the venture, worth JPY 300 million; these include trading companies and wind developers Sumitomo and Mitsui -- each with a 10% share -- developer Japan Wind Development, six regional electric companies and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking.

Among the 20 companies which have signed agreements with JNEC are Sony Corp (4.5 million kWh), Seiko Epson Corp (two million kWh), Toyota Motor Corp (two million kWh) and Asahi Breweries Ltd (one million kWh). Asahi has also agreed to sign on for an extra 2.3 million kWh from May next year. The extra green electricity will cover 20% of the needs of its new Kanagawa factory. All the other companies are buying less than one million kilowatt hours.

The green electricity facilitated by JNEC is about JPY 4.0/kWh ($0.033/kWh) more expensive than standard electricity for a 15 year contract. With the deal, JNEC is looking to the future. Currently it issues a "Green Power Certification" to the companies, depending on the amount of wind they use. So far the companies can use the certificate for airing their green credentials to customers. But JNEC foresees that if a global trading system based on CO2 reduction certificates is established, the green credits can be sold on that market.

So far three wind stations will supply 23.55 MW to the program. The first of these, Choshi-Byobugaura Wind Power Station, is being developed by Japan Wind Development Co and consists of one 1.5 MW unit from Enron Europe, scheduled to start in August. The second is a 14.4 MW project, Noshiro Wind Power Station, consisting of 24 Enercon 600 kW turbines, also from Germany, to go on-line in December. The third is a Toyota development through Toyota Tsusho Corp, the 7.65 Minami Towada Wind Power Station, with nine 850 kW Vestas turbines from Denmark.

The companies buying less than one million kilowatt hours a year include Eisai, Kandenko, Sumitomo Kinzoku Kozan, Sumitomo Shoji, Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance, Tokyo Gas, Tokyo Electric Power, Nihon Unisys, Hazama, Hitachi, Maeda, Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, Mitsui Trading, Mitsubishi Estate, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Ricoh.

JNEC is looking for more supplies of wind energy. It is negotiating with about 30 other firms interested in buying its green product. JNEC expects to have about 40 companies using about 50 million kWh by the year's end.

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