Green funds aid clean energy effort

Bloomberg

Two Japanese clean energy funds plan to raise about ¥1 billion from the public and urge regional financial institutions to provide loans for wind and solar projects to boost the local economy.

Ohisama Energy Fund Co. and Japan Green Fund Co. will help regional power producers raise money, they said last week. The Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies will help developers set up business plans.

The group is raising ¥350 million for a solar and biomass project in Nagano Prefecture and plans to raise money for other developments in Hokkaido, Fukushima, Kanagawa and Yamaguchi prefectures by early next year.

Local banks and credit unions must get involved for such regional renewable projects to succeed, Koichi Ito, a professor at the Graduate School of Accounting and Finance at Chiba University of Commerce and an adviser to the group, said at a Tokyo news conference Sunday. “Big companies come to rural areas to produce power and take money back to urban areas,” he said. “We need investment by citizens and cooperation from local financial institutions to help the money flow locally.”

To help local lenders new to solar projects, the Environment Ministry is preparing a handbook. Japan introduced an incentive program for clean energy in July 2012 that helped its mostly residential solar market expand into commercial and utility-scale projects.