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Robeco owner ORIX developing solar power as Japan debates renewables targets

Financial services group has 425MW in the pipeline

ORIX Corporation, the Japanese financial services group that last year acquired Dutch-based fund manager Robeco, says it is developing 425MW of solar power at more than 200 sites across Japan, including both rooftop and large-scale facilities.

In total, it has already started generating power at 67 sites.

It comes as the Japanese government has today (April 7) reportedly decided against setting goals for renewable energy in a new report looking at the country’s energy mix, the first since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

ORIX, which is listed in both New York and Tokyo, said that in its large-scale (termed “mega-solar”) business, it is working on 66 sites across Japan with a combined maximum output of 356.2MW. The rooftop business, where solar panels are housed on the roofs of large buildings owned by companies and local governments, has started installation at 148 locations.

ORIX says it has a achieved its target for the mega-solar business one year ahead of schedule, and will continue development going forward.

ORIX, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014, acquired around 90% of Robeco from parent Rabobank for some €1.9bn just over a year ago.Meanwhile, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reportedly decided against setting goals for renewable energy. The final version of a draft plan mapping out the country’s energy future reinforces the role of nuclear power, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Nuclear is described as a key “baseload” energy source in the first update to the country’s energy policy since Fukushima. Coalition partner New Komeito has been advocating targets for renewable sources, pledging during the election campaign two years ago that clean energy could account for up to 30% of capacity by 2030.
It has also been reported that the government will set up a high-level ministerial council to coordinate cooperation on clean energy.
Nuclear provided more than 25% of the country’s power before the earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant in eastern Japan. Since then all 48 commercial reactors have been shut down – meaning Japan has been nuclear-free since September last year.
Japan currently gets just 1.6% of its electricity from renewables such as wind and solar power; hydropower provides around 8.4%.