Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No. 79: Ventures are rushing to the renewable energy business (September 1, 2011)

With the approval of the special measures law for renewable energy, many ventures rushing to the renewable energy business with a focus on cost advantage and high generation efficiency. WINPRO in Niigate Prefecture plans to produce medium-sized wind generator with an output of 10 kW next spring. The model scheduled for mass production can generate even by a breeze of 1.5 m/sec with lower wind noise. The price will be about 5 million yen. The company wishes to have it installed on the roof of buildings inside the city and in idled places. It plans to entrust the production to five companies with shipbuilding technology, and sell 1,000 units in the initial year.

EneDream in Ishikawa Prefecture has developed a wind generator that has a ring on the edge of each blade. The company is building a plant with an output of 20 kW, and it is scheduled to start the substantiative experiment within the year. Because of the gimmick to gather wind as much as possible, heavy rings on the edge rotate with the wings with the help of inertia. This enables the generator to achieve 1.5 times more generation than the existing model by the same wind velocity. It plans to launch large generators toward October next year.

PVG Solutions in Yokohama started trial production of solar cells that have a generation surface on both side. The company plans to increase generation efficiency by generating power on both sides. Seabell International in Tokyo will start the generation business using small hydraulic generators capable of generating in rivers with a small drop. The company will build a generation plant with 100 units in alliance with local governments and financial institutions.

In foreign countries, photovoltaic generation equipment enjoys great demand from such industrial uses as manufacturing plants and large scale generation plants. In Japan, however, renewable energy is mainly for household use. Photovoltaic generation for household use grew rapidly after 2009 when the subsidy system was established. Wind generation is suffering from slow growth because of the time and cost needed to build a plant and complaints from local residents of noises. In fact, some plans were cancelled because of the inability to mitigate the opposition of local residents.

Venture companies are required to focus on technological innovation in tough days to spread renewable energy in Japan.

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