Renewable Energy-Related Business

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We report on the progress made by the Diagnostics and Consulting Business in photovoltaic power generation and at the Tahara Solar-Wind™ Joint Project

Status of Diagnostics and Consulting Business for Photovoltaic Power Generation

Two years have passed since the launch of the diagnostics and consulting business for photovoltaic power generation in March 2014. The Mitsui Chemicals Group has been providing the world with encapsulant sheets for solar cells for more than 25 years and is well versed in the damage that long-term outdoor exposure can cause to solar panels. The Company also maintains photovoltaic power generation facilities, such as the Tahara Solar-Wind™ solar power generation facility, and draws on its expertise in the key issues in their development as well as in their repair and maintenance. Leveraging these areas of its expertise, the Company is providing services from a third-party standpoint that are in tune with the life cycles of photovoltaic power generation facilities, reviewing renewable energy feed-in tariffs (FITs), and developing business to respond to changes in the business environment, including the revitalization of the secondary market in which power generation facilities are purchased and resold.
As a consequence of the FITs, which were launched in July 2012, there was increased activity in the planning and development of photovoltaic power generation facilities. At the end of December 2015, 79.3GW of photovoltaic power generation facilities had received FIT certification, 25.2GW were in operation, and the expectations were that power generation facilities would continue to be built in the years to come.
If you compare the photovoltaic power generation facilities built from 2015 onwards with the start of FIT
(a) There are many being built on former golf courses and on plots with inclines in mountainous regions, the cost of building is high compared with flat land
(b) For the reason that the FIT purchase price is \24–36/kWh, lower than the initial \40/kWh,
Japanese and overseas operators that possess high levels of expertise relating to photovoltaic power generation are entering the business, and this kind of operator increases the opportunities for utilization of Mitsui Chemicals power generation facility planning and diagnostic services.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange established its infrastructure fund market in April 2015, and the listing of a photovoltaic power generation facility fund as its first project in June 2016 has activated the secondary market. This secondary market requires due diligence (asset value assessments) on the part of the power generation facilities. There are instances where problems have arisen that have led to a decrease in the power generation capacity at power generation facilities that are in operation, thus requests for the power generation facility technology due diligence service offered by the Company will be increasing.
Through these business activities, Mitsui Chemicals is contributing to the stable development and operation of photovoltaic power generation, which holds an important position amid the push toward the increased use of renewable energy.

Diagram showing services provision

Diagram showing services provision

Services that are being provided in tune with the life cycles of photovoltaic power generation facilities

Phase Services Offered Details of Services
Planning Power generation facility plan diagnostics Evaluates power generation facility plans, including facility design, expected electric power generation capacity, repairs, and maintenance
Construction Solar panel quality diagnostics Evaluates quality (long-term performance, quality control) of solar panels installed at power generation facilities
Power generation facility diagnostics Evaluates progress reports and current status of construction work to determine whether facilities are being built in accordance with plans
Operating Power generation data diagnostics Evaluates to determine whether power generation capacity is in accordance with plans
Resale and Purchase/Securitization Power generation facility technology due diligence Evaluates operating performance of power generation equipment and facilities, future power generation capacity as well as essential repairs and maintenance

Cases of Failures at Power Generation Facilities during Operation

< Infrared camera image >Parts of this solar panel are generating heat due to the failure of a bypass diode (the white parts are generating heat)

< Digital camera image >The glass in this solar panel has been cracked by a lightning strike

< Left: digital camera image; right: infrared camera image >Weeds growing out from in between the solar panels cause a shadow, the effect of which is for silicon cells to generate heat (white square section)


Next Generation Business Development

Report on Operations at the Tahara Solar-Wind™ Joint Project

In conjunction with Mitsui & Co. and five other companies, Mitsui Chemicals, as the representative company, began construction on the Tahara Solar-Wind™ Joint Project, a combined solar and wind power hybrid power plant capable of generating 56MW along the coastal area of Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture, in November 2012. Thereafter, commercial operations commenced on October 1, 2014, after a trial operating period of a little over four months.

Conditions after Start of Commercial Operations at the Tahara Solar-Wind™ Joint Project

More than a year and a half has passed since the October 2014 start of operations at the Tahara Solar-Wind™ Joint Project, which is operated by a seven-company consortium that includes Mitsui Chemicals. Thus far, there have been no accidents or major problems and, assisted by the abundance of solar radiation and by the wind conditions with which Tahara City is blessed, steady power generation is continuing at levels greatly exceeding the forecast capacity and contributing significantly to a reduction in CO2 emissions.
As large-scale hybrid power generation facilities that combine solar and wind power, of which there are only a few examples in Japan, the Tahara power generation complex is also generating interest among large numbers of people. In fiscal 2015, through Aichi Prefecture, Tahara City, and the consortium companies, the facility received large numbers of visitors from Japan and other countries as well as news coverage, and schools in Tahara City made use of the facilities as a means of learning about the environment.
Also in fiscal 2015, we organized a Summer Holiday Study Tour as an in-house event. During the tour, which was designed to raise awareness of the environment and strengthen inter-family bonds, the families inspected the solar and wind power facilities and a classroom, where parents and children carried out experiments using the Company’s environment-friendly products. From having seen wind turbines and solar panels up close, the Company would like to think that the families who took the tour now feel more familiar with renewable energy.

Through its power generation facility tour activities and demonstration experiments, the Tahara Solar-Wind™ power generation complex will help to promote renewable energy and reduce the burden on the environment in the years ahead.

Trends in Power Generation

Two views of the study tour organized for Mitsui Chemicals employee families during the summer holidays