Clean Energy Q&A
- Renewable Energy
- Solar Power
- Units of Measurement
- Solar Plant Operation
- Infrastructure Fund Market
Introduction to renewable energy
Renewable energy is defined as energy that comes from naturally replenished resources such as sunlight, wind, geothermal activity, and tides.
The need for renewable energy
Our economy and lifestyle depend on ultimately depletable sources of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. This dependency is felt strongly in Japan, which relies on overseas imports for 96% of its fossil fuels.
Furthermore, fossil fuels are a pollutant and a primary cause of global warming. For these myriad reasons, the development of clean, renewable energy is of immediate importance both to the world and to Japan specifically.
Japan’s “New Energy” policy
Japan’s “New Energy” policy enumerates eleven types of renewable energy, including solar power, that are specifically targeted for accelerated development in energy resource-poor Japan.
Introduction to solar power
Solar power refers to the power generated by converting sunlight into electricity. Japan's solar technology is on the cutting edge and, moreover, solar energy is the easiest renewable energy source to develop.
Technology behind solar power
The photovoltaic effect was discovered by French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel in 1893. In 1954, the first solar cell based on the photovoltaic effect was developed at Bell Laboratories in the United States.
Solar Japan: past, present, and future
A stable energy supply became a salient issue for Japan in the 1970s due to worldwide oil shocks, and since the 1990s, there has been a growing awareness of global warming and its causes. Thus, Japan began to actively pursue stable, renewable energy to both buttress economic growth as well as protect the environment from further harm.
With nuclear power plants idled in response to the 3/11 Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Japan's need for alternative energy sources became acute, and in July 2012 the Japanese government launched a renewable energy feed-in tariff program to incentivize the development of a large-scale renewable power industry.
Units of Measurement
A watt is a derived unit of power that measures energy conversion rates.
A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts, about 1.34 horsepower.
kWh (Kilowatt hour)
A kilowatt hour is a unit of energy that is the product of power (in kilowatts) and time (measured in hours).
A megawatt is 1 million watts or 1,000 kilowatts.
Solar Plant Operation
Solar land usage
1MW generally requires about 20,000 square meters of land and will produce upwards of roughly 1 million kWh per year.
How we generate our clean energy performance metrics
1MW of solar power is 1 million kWh per year. Japanese annual household energy consumption averages 3,600kWh, which means that a 1MW plant can supply about 277 households per year.
Clean energy is not only renewable but greener than traditional large-scale power technologies. Thus, 1MW of solar power will imply a CO2 reduction of 660,000kg per year, which is roughly equivalent to 23 round trips between Haneda and Osaka on a 250-seat jet, or pulling 290 cars per year off the road.
|3,600kWh annual energy consumption per household (Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan)|
|0.66kg-CO2/kWh is reduced by solar power (Advanced Industrial Science and Technology)|
250-seat passenger aircraft emitting 56.8kg-CO2 per capita one-way from Haneda to Osaka
(Ministry of the Environment Carbon Offset Guidelines)
2,300kg-CO2 exhaust emissions per car based on 10,000km driven per year at 10 km/liter of mileage.
(Ministry of the Environment)
Japan's feed-in tariffs for renewable energy
Japan's feed-in tariffs were enacted with the general support of the Japanese public to boost the spread of renewable energy. Beginning July 2012, the feed-in tariff structure was designed to properly incentivize the development of high-cost renewables in order to create a virtuous cycle of innovation and cost-cutting.
Renewable energy is bought by the electric utilities who in turn supply it to the grid, so end-users pay a surcharge to help cover the renewable portion of the total power supply.
Ichigo's clean energy business
Ichigo ECO Energy owns and operates utility-scale solar power plants throughout Japan, making purposeful use of unused land nationwide. In August 2013, Ichigo ECO Tokushima Higashi-Okinosu became Ichigo’s first solar plant to begin operations. Since then, Ichigo ECO Energy has been launching solar power plants nationwide. Ichigo launched operation of the Ichigo Showamura Ogose ECO Power Plant, the largest solar power plant in Kanto, the region that encompasses Tokyo and the world’s largest electricity market on September 2, 2017.
Infrastructure Fund Market
Infrastructure Fund Market
An infrastructure market is a listed exchange market of products built on infrastructure investments. To promote the use of private funds to stimulate infrastructure investment, the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) established an infrastructure fund market on April 30, 2015 for listing funds that invest in infrastructure assets such as renewable energy generation facilities and concession rights to operate public infrastructure, providing efficient investment opportunities for Japanese investors to invest in a new asset class.
Infrastructure Investment Vehicles
Ichigo listed a solar YieldCo, Ichigo Green (9282), on the TSE Infrastructure Market in December 2016. A YieldCo is a company that is formed to own operating assets that produce a predictable cash flow, primarily through long-term contracts. Ichigo Green offers investors an opportunity to invest in the significant and rapidly expanding green infrastructure asset class, and the growth of Ichigo Green is expected to support the development of Japan’s capital markets while contributing to Japan’s energy self-sufficiency.