Science

Goldman Sachs invests in Japanese green energy

By James Maynard , Jun 16, 2013 09:05 PM EDT

Goldman Sachs announced in May, 2013 that they are investing $487 million dollars in renewable energy, mostly solar power plants, in Japan. Now, they are delving even deeper into the Japanese renewable energy market, targeting $3.19 billion dollars in total renewable energy production, including off-shore wind production in the waters off the island nation.

Japan Renewable Energy Company was established in August 2012, by Goldman Sachs, with the goal of sparking investments in renewable energy in that Asian nation. The organization intends to develop and install a variety of green energy systems for Japan, including solar, wind, and biomass generation facilities. This small nation was once highly-dependent on nuclear power for its electrical generation, but since the disaster at Fukushima, Japan has scaled back to operating just two nuclear power plants.

All told, the new energy products for Japan will produce a total of around one gigawatt (GW) of electricity for the nation. The island nation, which began 2013 with 6.1 GW of solar production, will end the year producing 9.4 GW of electricity form the Sun. This would make Japan the second biggest market for solar power in the world, behind only China.

With the previously-announced construction sponsored by the investment company, Japan will become one of the leading countries for solar installations in 2013. The new wind farms off the coast of Japan will be large, due to the nature of the approval process, which can include conducting studies of how the farm will impact fishing in the area.

"It takes three to four years to do an environmental impact study for an onshore wind project with more than 10 megawatts of capacity. Projects with larger capacity are more attractive because an environmental study requires the same amount of time even for a 500-megawatt offshore farm," Shigeru Yasu, a representative director at Japan Renewable Energy, said.

Japan is estimated to have a total capacity of up to 31 megawatts of offshore wind capability. The United Kingdom, by contrast, has almost 100 times that capacity.

The new solar farms will include a 40 megawatt (MW) plant to be built in Mito, Japan, northest of Tokyo. They will be constructed from over $35 million dollars in solar cells built by LS (Leading Solution) Industrial company, part of the LS Group, a Korean conglomerate.

The money for the renewable energy investment will consist of $530,300,000 in financing from Sachs, and five times that amount will be borrowed in capital loans.

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