Monday, June 22, 2015

No. 88: The world’s largest windmill for ocean generation is completed (June 22, 2015)

The world’s largest windmill for ocean generation with a capacity of 7,000 kW was completed and opened to the public on June 22. It will be installed 20 km offshore Fukushima Prefecture early July. It is for floating ocean generation and scheduled to start generation early December. The blade is 167 m in diameter. It is built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The windmill is 190 m high and weighs 1,500 tons. The height including the floating part is about 200 m.

The world's largest windmill is 
opened to the public on June 22

Supported by the government, companies and organization are energetically developing renewable energy projects. The new windmill is the second windmill under the government’s initiative. The first windmill was built by Hitachi. It has a capacity of 2,000 kW and started generation in November 2013. The third windmill is scheduled to start generation within 2015.   

The world's largest windmill has become 
the center of nationwide attention

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No. 87: Increasing the purchase price to foster off-shore wind power generation (October 29, 2013)

The government will increase the purchase price of electricity by wind generation next year to correct overreliance on photovoltaic generation and foster off-shore wind generation. The purchase price of off-shore wind generation will be 1.5 to 2.0 times higher than that of electricity by land wind generation. 

Purchase price of renewable energy per one kW/h

2014 (Planned)
Photovoltaic generation
(Capacity more than 10 kW)
36 yen
30-35 yen
Wind generation
(Capacity more than 20 kW)
22 yen
Increase the purchase price of off-shore wind generation to 30-50 yen
Medium-sized hydraulic generation
24-34 yen
Remain unchanged
Biomass generation  
13-39 yen
Remain unchanged
Geothermal generation  
26-40 yen
Remain unchanged
The government introduced the system that asked electric power companies to purchase renewable energy at a fixed price. Because it fixed the purchase price of electricity by land wind generation at 22/kW, private companies hesitate to participate in the off-shore wind generation business because off-shore wind generation costs more than land wind generation to construct facilities. Unlike in Europe where wind generation accounts for 20-30% in power generation, wind generation accounts only for 0.5% in Japan. All renewable energies have a combined share of merely 1.6% in power generation. Marubeni plans to construct a large-scale off-shore wind generation plant with a capacity of 240,000 kW that will start operation in 2016. The total investment is estimated at 100 billion yen. 

 Marubeni plans to construct an off-shore wind generation plant 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

No. 86: Leading solar cell producers increase solar cell supply by 40% this year (July 3, 2013)

Business Trend:
Five leading solar cell producers including Sharp and Kyocera will increase solar cell supply 40% over the previous year this year. On July 1 last year, Japan enacted the system to purchase renewable energy, and demand for solar cell has been increasing dramatically for the past one year. The market involved in photovoltaic generation is estimated to increase 80% this year, and solar cell producers cannot keep up with the rapidly increasing demand. The five leading solar cell producers increased the total supply capacity 37% over the previous year to about 4,700,000 kW in 2013, of which 90% will be shipped domestically.

Supply in kW
Increased rate over the previous year (%)
Solar Frontier
Mitsubishi Electric
According to a survey company in the U.S., Japanese photovoltaic generation related market will increase 77% over the previous year to about 1,970 billion yen in 2013 and become the world’s largest market, surpassing the Germany and the U.S. Foreign suppliers are strengthening their sales activities in Japan. They had 23% share in 2012 ad plan to increase the share to over 30% in 2013. Because some predict that the current booming solar cell business is going to create a bubble, companies involved in the photovoltaic business are required to make a difficult management decision.

Excessive concentration on photovoltaic generation is observed in Japan mainly because purchase price of photovoltaic generation in Japan is about two times higher in Germany. In fact, photovoltaic generation facilities account for 90% of all facilities approved by the government for renewable energy generation. Initial investment can be recouped in seven years, and generated electricity can be sold at the same price for 20 years. Accordingly, large companies and investment funds participated in the photovoltaic generation business one after another. As a result, transmission networks suffer from capacity shortage in some areas. At the same time, it is growing harder to secure land for photovoltaic generation today. 

The dye-sensitive solar cell of the world's  highest efficiency
developed by Sharp

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

No. 85: Japan’s largest off-shore wind turbine starts generation coming October (June 26, 2013)

A huge off-shore wind turbine to be installed 20 km offshore of Fukushima Prefecture was released to the public. It is currently the largest wind turbine ever built in Japan. It is a floating type wind turbine built by Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding. It will start operation coming October. It is 106 m high above the sea when it is installed. The windmill is 80 m in diameter, and the output is 2,000 kW.

Building this off-shore wind turbine is part of the government-funded substantiative experiment, and a total of 11 organizations including universities, trading companies, and shipbuilding companies participate in this project. The project team is scheduled to build the world largest off-shore wind turbine that has an output of 7,000 kW in 2014. Details of this project are available in English

 Japan's largest off-shore wind turbine is unveiled. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

No. 84: Kyocera gets an order for its photovoltaic generation system from JA Zennoh (June 24, 2013)

Business trend:
Kyocera got an order for the construction of its photovoltaic generation system in 80 locations with total power generation capacity of 30,000 kW from the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (JA Zennoh) for 8,500 million yen as the order for 2013. The company plans to start the photovoltaic generation business at Zennoh’s 500 locations in alliance with Mitsubishi Corp. Kyocera will install 124,000 solar panels and take care of everything involved in photovoltaic generation from system design, construction, and maintenance. 

Kyocera has competitive edge in the technology to put various shapes of solar panels, such as trapezoidal and rectangular ones, with no space between them. Because Zennoh’s plants and livestock barns have various shapes of rooftops, they reportedly outdid Chinese makers that competed with low-priced products. Kyocera plans to increase the production of solar panels 25% over the previous year in 2013. 

Photovoltaic generation on the 
rooftop of a livestock barn

Sunday, June 9, 2013

No. 83: A new back sheet for solar cells from Fujifilm (June 9, 2013)

Fujifilm will put its newly-developed sheets used for solar cells on the market. The sheet is the so-called back sheet attached to the back of a solar cell to protect it from heat, humidity, and ultraviolet. It oxidizes should it be exposed to air and water, but the company increased the durability of the sheet by mixing special compound with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and applying its own unique technology to blow up film. The new sheet has a life of 30 years, three times more durable than the existing products on the market. It is priced at 20-30% higher than the standard back sheet. According to European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPA), solar cells with a total generation capacity of 31 million kW were introduced worldwide in 2012, making the cumulative output reach 100 kW. The introduction is expected to increase 55% from 2012 to over 48 million kW in 2017.   

Fujifilm had no way but to decrease the share of film business considerably because of the growing popularity of digital cameras. Actually, film sales account for less than 1% at present as compared with about 20% in 2000. The company is busily occupied with launching new business operations based on the technology it has accumulated. Late last year, it started to ship the EXCLEAR designed for the touch panel of smartphones and tablet PCs. In addition to higher precision, it can be mounted on the next-generation display because it is bendable. Fujifilm is also marketing the label to prevent counterfeiting that allows printed images and literal information to be seen only through the special filter. 

 Fujifilm's technology to extract 
organic EL illumination light 

Friday, June 7, 2013

No. 82: Developing raw materials for biofuel (June 7, 2013)

Kobelco Eco-Solutions discovered a new species of euglena that has two times more fat inside than euglena gracilis z stock, which is the currently most promising euglena, and successfully cultured it in collaboration with the University of Tsukuba. The company confirmed that the new euglena proliferates fast if it is cultured by effluent containing organic substances and purifies water. It is supposed to have the same degree of combustibility as coal. The company wishes to put a system from the culture of the new euglena to the refinement of biofuel toward 2018.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries established a technology to produce bioethanol from rice straws at a low cost. The new technology processes rice straws only by hot water. Because it does not use sulfuric acid, it can reduce capital investment. The new technology makes it possible to produce bioethanol at 40 yen per liter. The company has been conducting the substantiative experiment for the past five years.    

   Producing bioethanol from rice