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Goldman Sachs Eyes Japan Renewable Energy Investments

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. plans to invest as much as 50 billion yen ($487 million) in renewable energy projects in Japan in the next five years, tapping demand for electricity produced from solar and wind-power generators.

The Wall Street firm also plans to take as much as 250 billion yen of bank loans and project-financing over the same period to move ahead with projects that would cost a total of 300 billion yen, Hiroko Matsumoto, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman for Goldman, said by telephone. The Nikkei newspaper reported the plan earlier today.

Japan began offering incentives in July through feed-in tariffs to encourage renewables after the Fukushima nuclear-plant crisis stemming from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Japan has been forced to slash its reliance on atomic power generation since Fukushima.

“We believe that we can leverage our global expertise in investing in renewable energy in places such as the U.S. and India, to help expand Japan’s renewable power capabilities,” Ankur Sahu, co-head of the merchant banking division in the Asia-Pacific, said by e-mail.

Goldman Sachs formed the Japan Renewable Energy Co. unit in August to plan, design and operate power plants run on sun, wind, fuel cells and biomass fuels, it said on its website.

Investor Attraction

Renewable energy has attracted interest from investors ranging from billionaire Masayoshi Son’s Softbank Corp. and financial-services company Orix Corp. to the country’s biggest banks led by Mizuho Financial Group Inc.

Japan will probably become the largest solar market in the world after China this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Commercial and utility-scale projects will boost solar installations to a range of 6.1 gigawatts to 9.4 gigawatts in 2013, exceeding an earlier forecast of 3.2 gigawatts to 4 gigawatts, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in April.

Companies that stand to benefit include Kyocera Corp., Sharp Corp. and Suntech Power Japan Corp., all of which make and sell solar panels for residential and industrial use.

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