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Providing a Reliable Supply of Eco-friendly Electric Power with Biomass Power Generation

Japan

With people becoming increasingly aware of global environmental and energy issues, Japan launched feed-in-tariffs (FIT) policy for renewable energy generation utilizing sunlight, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass and others in FY2012. While renewable energy does have a low impact on the environment and poses no concerns about depletion, there are obstacles that must be overcome to enable each method of power generation to continue producing electric power reliably regardless of the season, the weather condition or the time of day.

Building a recycling-oriented society, with a focus on the biomass power generation business

To help realize a sustainable society through safe and stable energy supply and environmentally conscious efforts, the Sumitomo Corporation Group company Summit Energy Corporation (Summit Energy) started domestic electricity retail business in 2001 following the deregulation of the electricity retail market in Japan. Among its endeavors, Summit Energy has been seeking to actively utilize renewable energy by constructing power plants utilizing wind and biomass as well as by operating large-scale solar power stations on consignment. It is placing particular focus on the biomass power generation business in which power can be steadily generated 24 hours a day regardless of the weather.

Biomass is a collective term for plant, animal and other biological resources, and biomass power generation creates energy by combusting renewable plant resources such as timber from forest thinning. Because this method employs plant resources that grow by absorbing CO2 through photosynthesis as fuel, it is considered CO2 emission-free under the Kyoto Protocol. The use of forest thinnings, leftover wood from lumberyards, construction waste materials, and other unused wood as valuable fuel is also expected to help revitalize the forestry industry and other local industries in communities across Japan.

Overview of global warming countermeasures in biomass power generation

Reliably procuring biomass fuel via domestic and international networks

In 2005, Summit Energy began operating Itoigawa Biomass Power Plant in Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture (electric power output: 50,000kW) for which Summit Myojo Power Corporation is the primary contractor. The Handa Biomass Power Plant (electric power output: 75,000kW; scheduled to begin operations in 2017) in Handa, Aichi Prefecture, and the Sakata Biomass Power Plant (electric power output: 50,000kW; scheduled to begin operations in 2018) in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture are currently being built under the oversight of Summit Handa Power Corporation and Summit Sakata Power Corporation respectively. When these two facilities begin commercial operation, Summit Energy will become one of the largest biomass power generation companies in Japan.

Steady procurement of biomass fuel will be essential for operating these large-scale power plants on schedule. Accordingly, as it builds these power plants, Summit Energy will be collaborating with Sumitomo Corporation's Materials, Supplies & Real Estate Division, which has expertise and a significant track record in handling wood chips, pellets and similar materials, to procure biomass fuel from a broad range of sources inside and outside Japan.

Expanding output through additional biomass power plants

Sumitomo Spirits

Masamichi Takase (an employee of Sumitomo Corporation)Representative Director
Summit Sakata Power Corporation

Working to conserve the global environment and achieve a recycling-oriented society

Construction on the Sakata Biomass Power Plant is set to start in June 2016 in an industrial park facing Sakata North Port, and the facility should begin commercial operation in two years. Woody biomass is expected to serve as fuel to generate 90% of the heat volume ratio with regard to the total output. The plan is to procure a steady long-term supply of forest trimmings and other domestically-produced wood from forest-rich Yamagata Prefecture and elsewhere. The use of the port for importing, conveying, and stockpiling fuel in cooperation with local companies will contribute to the development of local industry. As a locally-based electric power company, we are eager to complete construction of the power plant in time possible to provide a steady supply of renewable energy through woody biomass power generation and thereby help conserve the global environment and realize a recycling-oriented society.

In Focus

Leveraging the Group's integrated corporate strength to supply eco-friendly electricity to numerous customers

The complete deregulation of the electricity retailing in April 2016 has given companies as well as general households a much wider range of choices among electricity utility companies and has boosted interest in electricity charges. Interest has also grown in the configuration of electricity sources, prompting inquiries and requests to Summit Energy from customers wishing to use eco-friendly electricity. To meet their demands, Summit Energy is making use of Sumitomo Corporation's biomass fuel procurement networks and seeking to expand its own eco-friendly electric energy sources*. It is also ensuring cost competitiveness by providing the best mix of electricity procured from people with their own power generating facilities and from Japan Electric Power Exchange, in addition to collaborating with companies that have connections with users, including the Sumitomo Corporation Group’s cable television company Jupiter Telecommunications Co., Ltd. (J:COM), to supply electric power to more customers.

*Some of the expenses entailed in procuring renewable energy are covered by the allotted charges collected from users, and the CO2 emissions of power generation through renewable energy are regarded as equivalent to the nationwide average of CO2 emissions for all power generation methods, including thermal power generation.

July 2016

Keyword

  • Infrastructure Business
  • Japan
  • Electric Power Energy
  • Environment

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