OSAKA (Kyodo) An increasing number of companies in the Kansai region are taking on the challenge of developing new businesses using their own energy-saving technologies.

They include the Kansai office of Tokyo-based First Energy Service Co., which has already been providing energy support on a contract basis to an aluminum rolling mill in Nagoya and succeeded in reducing annual electricity consumption by 42 percent in three years.

The company’s first project involved taking advantage of other work already going on in the factory to power an air compressor that was gobbling up a large amount of electricity.

First Energy Service mounted a turbine on a waste heat boiler, using its steam to generate 200 kilowatts that went into running the 280-kw air compressor.

In addition, an inverter control device was added to adjust the speed of the rotation of the air compressor’s motor. As a result, annual electricity consumption dropped from 6.55 million kw in 2001 to 3.77 million kw in 2004.

First Energy Service said there was no initial investment because it was able to carry out the contract work with leased machinery.

“We’re well received by the factory side,” an official said.

Eiwat Ltd., a consultancy in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, that also works on developing environment-related machinery, manufactures a micro hydroelectric power device that produces electricity without the need of a dam. Water brought into the apparatus by a vacuum pump drives the turbine.

Eiwat President Masaaki Shibata admits the power output is small at around 100 watts, but he’s quick to add, “Unlike solar and wind power generation, the device operates 24 hours a day and turns out the most stable natural energy.”

His firm has also developed a hybrid wind and solar power system and has been delivering it to companies and schools.

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