Visit to Plant

Oil Wholesaler Builds Solar Plant Near Coal Mine

Enters EPC business by taking over independent constructor

2014/05/24 18:20
Kiyotaka Nakanishi, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Hiraoka Sekiyu is an oil dealer based in Jizohamacho, Kishiwada City, Osaka Prefecture. It faces Hannan Port. It has two mega (large-scale) solar power plants in eastern and western Japan. In the east is the 2MW-output plant in Kisarazu City, Chiba Prefecture, and in the west is the 2.75MW (2MW + 0.75MW systems)-output plant in Arao City, Kumamoto Prefecture (Fig. 1).

As a medium-sized oil dealer, whose marketing area covers six prefectures (Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Shiga, Nara and Wakayama) in the Kinki area, Hiraoka Sekiyu runs a solar power generation business in Kyushu and the Kanto area, with which it has no direct connection.

Domestic sales of gasoline, heavy oil and other petroleum fuels have been declining since the peak in the mid-2000s, excluding those needed for power generation after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Automobile oil sales dropped because of the penetration of fuel-efficient vehicles while commercial and industrial oil sales fell because of efforts to enhance energy conservation and conversion for environmental protection.

Hiraoka Sekiyu's mainstay business is fuel delivery and wholesale, targeting plant boilers and heavy machinery at construction sites, and delivering light oil and heavy oil by lorries (Fig. 2). With sales reaching ¥10 to 11.5 billion (approx US$98 million to 113 million) and revenue remaining flat over the last few years, Hiraoka Sekiyu's business is not necessarily showing any particular signs of stagnation.

"We cannot be optimistic about our future, considering this industry is easily affected by the economy," President Kenichi Hiraoka said.

The company has also been attempting to diversify its business by running three gas stations for passenger cars and trucks in Kishiwada, Settsu and another city in Osaka Prefecture. Although the sales to drivers are small-lot, Hiraoka said, "The demand is steady compared with plants and construction sites." He said this move is meant for risk management purposes.

Hiraoka Sekiyu embarked on the photovoltaic (PV) power generation business in early 2011. It took over HUG Energy Co Ltd (Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture), which was a constructor specializing in PV power generation systems.

"We were looking for another mainstay business that would come next to fuels," Hiraoka said.

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