Japan's largest leasing company joins in

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Japan's largest leasing company is leaping into wind energy. Orix Ltd has become the major shareholder in a 30 MW joint venture wind farm at Hokkaido, the biggest in Japan to date. The company's main goal with wind is to provide project financing, according to Orix's Toshio Hatatani. The move into wind was encouraged by the Electric Power Development Co (EPDC), one of Japan's largest energy developers with plans for 90 MW of wind farms using 1 MW turbines (Windpower Monthly, July 1998). EPDC is a wholesale electricity supplier set up by the government in 1952 to sell power to Japan's ten regional utilities. These have resisted EPDC's large scale wind plans, complaining they will lose money. Hokkaido Electric Power Company, for example, says it will lose ¥7/kWh (EUR 0.055/kWh) compared with the cost with new development from other resources. Meantime, however, large private companies are getting involved in wind power as the technical risks have disappeared. Consequently EPDC has asked Orix to become involved in the JPY 6 billion Hokkaido project, to be located near Tomamae City and consist of 30, 1 MW turbines.

The construction start is planned for the autumn of next year. A turbine supplier has yet to be chosen. The electricity will be sold to Hokkaido Electric Power Co for JPY 11/kWh. A joint-venture for the project with a starting capital of JPY 100 million will be established in April. Orix and its subsidiary, Kanamoto, will take 50% of the shares, Tomamae City 31% and EPDC 19%.

Orix is already involved in a small project in Kusumaki together with wind energy developer EcoPower Co (Windpower Monthly, December 1998). The project consists of three NEG-Micon 400 kW units and is expected to be on-line by the end of the year. Orix also has stakes in three similar projects developed by EcoPower, as well as a wind farm in Ireland.

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