Japanese power supplier aims to beef up biomass power plants

Japanese energy supplier Erex Co will add more biomass power plants and expand into wind farms as it seeks to reach out to more customers following the opening up of Japan’s power-retail market, according to media reports in Bloomberg.

The company currently has a 20MW operating biomass power plant in the western prefecture of Kochi and has several more biomass projects in varying stages of development.

According to the news outlet, Japan fully liberalised its power market in April allowing households and small businesses to pick power providers for the first time. Erex wants to boost the ratio of its customers in the newly opened segment to 50%, said President Hitoshi Honna.

“The way to survive in the liberalized market is to address environmental issues and retain customers,” he said. “Biomass power offers a better prospect of recovering investment,” he added.

A 50MW biomass power station is scheduled to open as early as this year in Oita prefecture. Erex also plans to build a 75MW biomass plant with Taiheiyo Cement Corp. in Iwate. The company expects to reach a decision soon with partners on another 75MW  project in Fukuoka. Two more stations are under consideration, Honna said.

Japan’s biomass power market is expanding due to an incentive program introduced in July 2012 that pays favourable rates to clean-energy producers. Erex plans to use imported woody biomass fuel for its plants and is looking at expanding its fuel-procurement operations.

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