New renewable energy generation program gets off to promising start

Kyodo

Japan’s new renewable energy program is off to a smooth start, the industry ministry said Wednesday, noting that generation capacity has already exceeded its fiscal 2012 target by more than 50 percent.

The capacity of facilities approved by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has reached around 1.3 million kw in the two months since the feed-in tariff scheme began July 1. METI aims to raise that to 2.5 million kw through next March.

“We have seen a fairly good start,” METI said in a document, though it noted that not all of the facilities approved will start selling power this fiscal year because of the time needed to build them.

METI said the capacity generated by facilities that got off the ground between April and Aug. 31 came to 683,000 kw.

Of the 1.3 million kw approved, solar power plants account for 1.03 million kw (about 80 percent), wind power plants about 262,000 kw, and biomass plants 6,000 kw. Not geothermal plants were approved.

The number of solar power plants apparently surged because they are easier to install. Under the feed-in tariff scheme, utilities must purchase all electricity generated by renewable sources at preset premiums for up to 20 years, with the costs passed on to consumers.

Honda’s new generator

JIJI

Honda Motor Co. will start selling in November a new household gas engine cogeneration unit via gas utilities across Japan.

Unlike conventional models, which rely on electricity from the regular power grid, the Micro Combined Heat and Power unit, or MCHP1.0R, has a starter unit so it can be used during blackouts.

As long as there is a supply of household gas or liquefied propane gas, electricity can be generated during a power outage.

But because the output capacity is limited to 980 watts, it can’t power several electrical devices at the same time.

Lithium carbonate rights

NAGOYA
Kyodo

Toyota Tsusho Corp., a trading house of Toyota Motor Corp., said Wednesday it has acquired lithium carbonate exploitation rights with Australian resource development firm Orocobre Ltd. in Argentina’s Olaroz salt lake.

Toyota Tsusho said it will also wholly acquire the sales rights for the resources, used in lithium ion batteries, and plans to procure all lithium carbonate for domestic companies, including automakers and electronics firms.