Japan Government Green Fund Wants to Set Local Investment Model

A clean energy fund established by the Japanese government will target projects with the potential to become business models used by regional communities to promote and profit from renewable sources of energy.

“One of the green fund’s roles is to show models to regional communities which aren’t aware of their potential” to develop clean energy, said Takejiro Sueyoshi, head of Green Finance Organisation, the body selected by the Ministry of the Environment to oversee the fund. “We want to tell them you can do it in your village and town with your partners.”

Set up by the environment ministry with an initial budget of 1.4 billion yen ($14 million), the fund has already committed to two projects, with each getting 100 million yen.

The fund is backing a solar project in Wakayama prefecture being developed by Kyoto-based Plus Social Co. Plus Social plans to start building a 2-megawatt plant next year, Kentaro Matsushima, a company official in charge of project development, said by phone today.

The project is soliciting investments from residents and companies in Kyoto and Wakayama, both in western Japan, according to Matsushima. Profits will help support regional low-carbon efforts, Green Finance said in a statement on Oct. 4.

A biogas project being developed by Eneres Co. has also received backing. The Tokyo-based company is planning a plant at the site of a food factory in Gunma prefecture that will use waste to generate power, according to the statement. Power produced at the plant will be supplied at a discount.

The ministry is requesting 7 billion yen for the fund for the fiscal year starting Apr. 1, according to a budget request posted on the ministry’s website.

The fund may expand investment to other types of clean energy such as offshore wind and district heating.

“This is not about some special people doing projects at the sacrifice of profits,” Sueyoshi said. “We need an economy and society that let companies working hard to reduce carbon dioxide emissions be profitable and survive,” he said.

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