Top Ten Cleantech Highlights of Mitsubishi

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The Mitsubishi Group is a large Japanese conglomerate that contains a number of businesses sharing the Mitsubishi brand, legacy and trademark. Probably most well known are the Mitsubishi manufactured vehicles. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation is a multinational automobile manufacturer with headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. It is the fifth largest automaker in Japan and the seventeenth largest around the world. Other members include Mitsubishi Plastics, Mitsubishi Paper Mills, Mitsubishi Research Institute, Nikon Corporation, and Asahi Glass Co. Mitsubishi has been very active within the clean technology sector, with a number of highlights showcasing Mitsubishi’s commitment to sustainability and the environment. Here are just a few of them.

1) Mitsubishi Creates New Partnerships for Bio-Based Feedstocks. In April of 2011, Mitsubishi started working on formal partnerships with two United States bio-based chemical intermediate firms – BioAmber and Genomatica. BioAmber is a bio-based succinic acid firm and is agreeing to supply chemicals for Mitsubishi’s renewable, biodegradable polymer. Genomatic is a startup company manufacturing bio-based butanediol and has signed on for a number of joint ventures to build a plant in Asia. Hiroaki Ishizuka, Representative Director of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation said, “Asia is the fastest-growing chemicals market in the world and we see great potential to deliver bio-based chemicals to this market as a growing complement to our current conventionally-sourced chemicals. We believe that a strategic partnership with Genomatica will provide market-leading economics and quality which will benefit both parties.”

2) Mitsubishi Builds Solar Power Plant in Brunei. In May of 2011, Mitsubishi finished construction on a solar power plant that was built in the southeast Asian country of Brunei – it is the very first one for the country. It is on the site of a former natural gas power plant and has an output capacity of 1,200 kilowatts. This is enough generated power for 200 households. It has six types of different solar cells with varying characteristics to determine which is best fit for the weather conditions in the country. “We would be delighted if the new power station will be of some assistance to the sultan’s vision of industrial diversification and environmental preservation,” said Mitsubishi President Ken Kobayashi.

3) Mitsubishi Looks into Japan Based Solar Projects. In June of 2011, Mitsubishi started to look into building large scale solar power plants throughout Japan due to recent anticipation of a national feed-in tariff program. The proposed feed-in tariff program would establish a guaranteed demand for output coming from renewable energy projects.

4) Mitsubishi Puts $76 Million into Smart Grids. In May of 2010, Mitsubishi Electric made the announcement that it is looking to invest $76 million into the creation and experimentation of smart grid pilot projects that will span over the next couple of years. This announcement came after a number of investments made by the company into renewable power. Mitsubishi has stated that it is looking to install smart grid technology and clean energy, including batteries, solar photovoltaics, smart meters, communications networks, and electric vehicle and changing stations throughout the three facilities in Japan.

5) Mitsubishi Creates Smart Chargers for Residential Apartments. Mitsubishi has been working with Japan Delivery System Corp to provide a solution for convenient electric vehicle charging for apartments. Known as the i-Charger system, it uses a personal login verification code to use the station. It provides a system to retrieve electricity and allow building supervisors to bill the individual tenant based on the quantity of electricity they use for their electric vehicle in a shared parking area. The personal login information ensures that apartment dwellers are charged accurately and fairly. This new system holds massive importance especially with the acceleration of electric vehicles being purchased on the market.

6) Mitsubishi Provides Ozone Water Treatment System. Mitsubishi Electric announced in 2010 that is supplied one of their ozone water treatment systems to the Hanshin Water Supply Authority’s Amagasaki Waterworks. The system disinfects, deodorizes, decolorizes and removes all organic matter with more power than chlorine but is a lot safer as it only produces oxygen as a byproduct and uses less power than other systems.

7) Mitsubishi Looks to Quadruple their Solar Cell Production by the Year 2012. In August of 2008, Mitsubishi Electric invested $455 million in its photovoltaic product capacity to reach a total of 600 megawatts by the year 2012, from the 2008 level, which was 150 megawatts. Mitsubishi constructed a new fabrication plant and further plans to expand its solar cell production.

8 ) Mitsubishi Starts Rolling Out their Electric Cars in 2009. Mitsubishi, in 2009, was racing alongside fellow automobile maker, Subaru, to launch early plug-in vehicles ready for consumers. Mitsubishi made the plans to start leasing out their electric cars in Japan by July 2009, mainly to government and corporate customers. The electric vehicles will cost around 4.59 million Yen, or $47,560 and provide drivers with a 99 mile range. Mitsubishi expected to sell over 5,000 electric vehicles by March 2011.

9) Mitsubishi to Release Electric Vehicle in November 2011. The new Mitsubishi i.Electric Car will utilize Mitsubishi’s very own electric car technology, known as MiEV technology – Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle. After decades of research and development into the electric car technology, the cars are now ready for consumers and very environmentally friendly. The car is said to retail around $28,000. There will be three different charging options associated with the car, providing drivers with much more convenience when it is time to fuel up. It will also come equipped with a regenerative braking system, providing the battery with the ability to charge when the car begins to slow down. The car will be able to hit top speeds of 80 miles-per-hour and have a range of approximately 85 miles.

10) Mitsubishi Electric Partners with Shanghai Electric for New Energy Saving Ventures. In February of 2011, Mitsubishi Electric partnered with Shanghai Electric to design, develop and manufacture industrial systems that will provide users with energy saving capabilities. This joint venture is looking to capitalize on the Chinese governments regulations concerning environmental protection and their energy saving initiatives, which feature heavily in the new 2011 to 2015 plan.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.