A division of Mitsui, one of Japan’s largest trading groups, is to jointly invest in 25MW of PV projects in Japan with equity investment manager Tokio Marine Asset Management.

Mitsui & Co Plant Systems made the announcement this morning that it and Tokio Marine Asset Management had “reached understanding” on an investment fund for eight PV projects spread across three of the main islands of Japan. Under the latest deal, there will be a 1.8MW plant built in the northern island of Hokkaido, four plants totalling 18.6MW on the main island of Honshu, and 3.7MW across two facilities on the southern island of Kyushu.

According to Mitsui, this will be the third such investment fund the two companies have partnered on. The first was formed in the summer of 2012, the second the following year. Mitsui & Co Plant Systems will develop and build the new plants, while the asset management company will create a new fund to privately attract institutional investors.

Mitsui said the new fund would be set up by the end of this month, with the eight PV plants to be built between March 2015 and March 2016. Mitsui will act as asset manager and perform operations and maintenance (O&M) and other tasks, while separately developing other renewable energy projects including rooftop solar and biomass generation.

According to sources in Japan, following the 2012 introduction of the feed-in tariff (FiT) for renewable energy generation, the companies best placed to succeed in the solar industry were the larger ones, backed by available capital funds, that had begun preparation to work under the feed-in tariff ahead of its introduction.

Dr Hiroshi Matsukawa of analyst firm RTS PV said in May: “…the strongest companies are those which made preparations to enter the solar industry prior to the feed-in tariff becoming law in 2012. Preparations were made by some companies from quite some time before that. These are the companies that are enjoying the smoothest completion of their projects.”

Matsukawa went on to say in addition that as Japan’s largest trading companies, known as ‘keiretsu’, including Mitsui, Sumitomo and Marubeni were very prominent in the domestic PV industry due to their vast capital enabling them to move quickly.

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