Itochu Corporation is a Japanese general trading company that is based in Tokyo and Osaka. As the mission is that “The Itochu group respects the individual, society, and the future in its commitment to the global good,” it has been involved in the clean technology industry, including renewable energy and energy efficiency. Because of this, Itochu has been extremely active within the clean technology sector. Here are just a few highlights about what Itochu has done for the environment.
1) Itochu Partners with EnerDel for Smart Grid Integration. Itochu and lithium-ion battery manufacturing company EnerDel unveiled in May 2010 a new smart grid integration project by Tokyo, which is said to be “the first integration of EVs, stationary grid storage, renewable energy technologies and rapid recharging in a real-world setting.” at the heart of the project are EnerDel’s advanced batteries and they are intended to demonstrate the overall value that batteries can have in a stationary grid application.
2) Itochu Partners with Google and Sumitomo to Invest in Oregon Wind Farm. Itochu, in April 2011, partnered with Google Inc. and Sumitomo Corp. to invest approximately $500 million into a large wind farm based in Oregon. It is an 845 megawatt wind farm developed by Caithness Energy LLC. The project is slated to be complete in 2012 and will provide generated energy to supply more than 235,000 average sized homes in the United States. It will also save approximately 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the equivalent of what is produced by 260,000 cars.
3) Itochu Partners with General Electric for Joint Investment in an Oklahoma Wind Farm. In October 2010, Itochu and General Electric entered into a new partnership to invest in a number of green energy companies. One of the investments was approximately $319 million to the CPV Keenan II wind farm in Oklahoma. The farm is about 12 miles south west of Woodward and spreads over 8,000 acres. When complete, the wind farm will provide enough electricity for approximately 45,000 average homes. It will also offset carbon dioxide emissions by 413,000 tons, which is equivalent to 72,000 cars.
4) Itochu Launched its IT-Based Energy Conservation and Management Services in September 2009. The Energy Conservation Services for enterprises, and Energy Efficiency Assessment and Solution Services and Next Generation Energy Management Services for buildings, facilities and stores will assist in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and comply with national regulations. Through the know-how and all technology cultivated through its IT services, Itochu will include a number of solutions that are integrated in their energy control systems.
5) Itochu and Think Expanded their Partnership in Asia in July 2010 with an accelerated growth plan along with an equity investment for the marketing and distribution of THINK City electric vehicles and electric vehicle drive systems. Following the success of a number of projects in 2009, Itochu and THINK formalized the partnership to further develop the marketing and distribution opportunities for urban vehicles and drive-train businesses. “The partnership was already in place informally, as seen in the success we have had in ventures such as the Tsukaba Green Crossover Town sustainability project in associated with Mazda,” said Masahiro Okafuji, the Corporation President and CEO of Itochu. He continues, “The demonstration projects are already delivering strong results, giving us the confidence to bring similar projects to other Itochu businesses.”
6) In July 2011, Itochu Corporation invested in a Gainesville, Florida Renewable Energy Center Power Project. The center is a 100 megawatt biomass power project developed by BayCorp Holdings, Ltd., Energy Management Inc., and Tyr Energy Inc. This project is one of the largest biomass fueled electric generating facilities throughout the United States and its emission control system is set to meet and even exceed all requirements in Florida and the United States.
7) In February 2011, Itochu and Echelon Partnered to Provide Energy Management and Smart Street Light Solutions. Echelon and Itochu planned to develop and sell a number of solutions for the growing global smart grid market, focusing on street lighting, enterprise energy management, and renewable energy. “Conservation of energy and development of renewable energy sources are ITOCHU‘s focal business areas. There is a huge, global market opportunity to provide open, distributed energy control solutions that support enterprise energy management, smart street lighting and management of renewable energy. We believe Echelon’s products are a perfect match for these solutions,” said Tomohito Arai, GM, Information Technology Business Department of ITOCHU.
8 ) In June 2011 Itochu Installed a Battery Storage System in an Apartment Building. Itochu installed photovoltaic panels, a large storage battery system used for stationary applications, as well as LED lights in an apartment complex in Tokyo, Japan as part of their “Local Production for Local Consumption” project revolved around clean energy. This system is said to provide almost all the electricity needed to light the place up.
9) In December 2010, Itochu Partnered with Abengoa Solar to Build a Concentrating Solar Power Plant in Spain. The construction will actually be of two 50 megawatt concentrating solar power plants and will cost over €500 million in investment. The operation of the plants will begin in 2012 and will sell the power created to the grid based on the current Spanish feed-in tariff program. Santiago Seage, Abengoa Solar’s CEO, says: “This partnership with a leading Japanese trading firm and the participation of international banks confirms the growth potential of CSP fueled by the international investment community. For Abengoa Solar, it constitutes another step forward in the execution of our pipeline of projects that have secured their registration in the feed-in-tariff pre-assignment registry set up last year in Spain.”
10) In November 2010 Itochu and Duke Energy Partnered to Develop Strategies to Reuse Electric Vehicle Batteries. This collaboration is to assist with advanced energy technologies, including evaluating and testing second-life applications for electric vehicle batteries. The two companies believe that batteries that are no longer suitable for use in electric vehicles can be applied to other items. Possibilities to reuse these batters include supplemental home energy supply and renewable power storage. The companies look to assess how the batteries perform on their “second life,” including stationary applications in commercial buildings, neighborhoods, and homes.
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 email@example.com