Citizen-financed Funds to Build MW-class Green Power Plants

2013/10/18 17:00
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

Two investment companies raising money from local residents announced that they will build solar and wind power plants with a power generation capacity of about 1MW each in five regions of Japan, launch financial products called "Local Energy Civil Fund" and start to find investors for them.

The companies are Shizen Energy Shimin Fund (JGF) (Nakano Ward, Tokyo) and Ohisama Energy Fund (Ohisama Fund) (Iida City, Nagano). They raise funds from local residents to build renewable energy-based power generation facilities. The announcement was made at a joint press conference in Tokyo Oct 17, 2013.

Many of the power generation facilities built by Ohisama Fund are small in scale such as solar panels installed on the building of a kindergarten. Since its establishment in 2004, it has built solar power generation systems whose capacities amount to 1.6MW on 253 sites in Nagano Prefecture.

With the implementation of the feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme, the five new funds are aimed at building power generation plants whose capacities are higher than 1MW each from the beginning. Also, they are intended to use project finance from local financial institutions.

The capacities of the plants to be built in the five regions are 2MW in Hokkaido, 1-1.5MW in Fukushima, about 1MW in Odawara, Kanagawa, 1.5-2MW in Nagano and 0.8MW or higher in Yamaguchi. Two 2MW wind power generation plants will be constructed in Hokkaido, and large-scale solar power plants will be built in the other four regions.

The project in Nagano is financed by Ohisama Fund while the other four projects will be funded by JGF.

According to the plan made by JGF and Ohisama Fund, 30-40% of the total investment will be financed by local residents through the funds, and the remaining 60-70% will be borrowed from financial institutions through project finance. The Iida Shinkin Bank in Nagano and TRIbank Sagami in Odawara have already decided to lend money.

"In Denmark, 90% of the renewable energy-based power generation facilities are owned by local residents, and the percentage is 50% in Germany," said Koichi Ito, professor at the Graduate School of Accounting & Finance, Chiba University of Commerce, who attended the press conference. "In Japan, renewable energy-based power generation facilities are 'plantation type' and owned mainly by companies based outside the region. But the number of facilities funded by residents will increase in the future."