Tiny Tokyo Bourse Seen Growing to Take 10% of Japan Power Trade

  • JEPX volume at peak accounted for almost 3% of country’s total
  • Astmax expects volume to rise as more companies trade power

Trading on the Japan Electric Power Exchange, which is run from a six-person office in Tokyo, will some day account for about a tenth of the country’s electricity, according to Astmax Co.

Volume is poised to climb from a July record as new entrants seek to participate in a market that was fully liberalized in April, Shoichiro Ishibashi, a director at Tokyo-based Astmax’s trading unit said in an interview Wednesday. Japan’s 24-hour spot electricity trading volume rose to a record 72.5 gigawatt hours on July 11, or about 2.8 percent of the country’s total, according to data from the exchange.

“We are moving towards JEPX someday supplying 10 percent or more of the nation’s power needs,” said Ishibashi, who declined to provide a timeline for the estimate. “The number of companies selling electricity in Japan is bound to increase, and they will be buying a portion of their power from the exchange. That will boost volume.”

Astmax, which trades commodities, is in discussions with U.S. companies interested in entering Japan’s recently liberalized electricity market, Chairman Hideaki Ushijima said during the same interview on Wednesday. Astmax’s U.S.-based partner, Energy Services Group, provides billing, wholesale energy, sales and pricing management services to 110 electric and gas companies in North America.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government opened the retail power market in April in order to loosen the grip of the regional power utilities and increase grid reliability. About 114 companies trade on JEPX, according to the exchange, while more than 300 companies are registered to retail electricity, government data shows.

JEPX said in April that it aims to boost electricity spot market volume to the likes of Europe. More than 40 percent of electricity generated in Great Britain is traded on power exchanges, according to a 2015 report from Baringa Partners LLP. JEPX wasn’t immediately available for comment on Friday.

The April reforms have allowed retail consumers to select their electricity provider for the first time. So far, more than 1.26 million households and small businesses, representing about 2 percent of all contracts, have switched from traditional utilities to new electricity providers.

Japan’s average electricity use for 2015 was 2,612 gigawatt hours a day.

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