Japan: new prospects for biomass

Posted on 12 February 2016.

In Japan, Veolia is helping develop renewable energy by installing and operating two biomass power plants in the Tohoku region.

In November 2015, Veolia, in partnership with Takeei, a leading environmental services player in the fields of waste management and energy, won 20-year contracts to operate the two biomass power plants in the Tohoku region in northern Japan.

Fueled by local forest industries, which are highly developed in a country where almost 70% is covered by forests, the two plants in Hirakawa and Hanamaki, commissioned in November 2015 and December 2016, will produce 100 GWh of electricity a year - equivalent to the consumption of 22,000 homes. These two contracts are based on the circular, local use of resources - the wood that feeds the plant comes from the neighboring forestry industries thanks to Takeei’s contacts in the region. Veolia brings its expertise in operating biomass power plants and will manage all the operational aspects.

With these two plants, Veolia and Takeei are helping to increase the production of renewable energy in Honshu Island - the largest island in the Japanese archipelago – and also helping to diversify energy sources. An energy transition process has begun since the Fukushima disaster, which is reflected in the major investments being made in renewable energy - including in biomass.

On 1 June 2015, the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, appointed by Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, proposed an energy mix including 22-24% renewable energy to be achieved by 2030, as against 12% today. In the same year, Shinzō Abe's government made a formal commitment to reducing its GHG emissions by 26% of the 2013 level by 2030.

The Hirakawa and Hanamaki power plants will avoid the emission of 40,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per year and are just the first of Veolia and Takeei’s many goals.