FACTBOX-New investment in renewable energy projects in Japan

TOKYO, Sept 12 Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:24am EDT

TOKYO, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Japan has approved more than 33,000 renewable energy projects that can receive subsidies under a new energy law that took effect on July 1, as the country phases out nuclear power after last year's Fukushima disaster.

Of those, 81 are solar power projects with capacity of 1 megawatt (MW) or more each, totalling 243 megawatts, data for the first month of the scheme from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) showed.

Six wind power projects totalling 122 MW have also been approved, as have homeowners and small companies which have installed solar panels on their roofs, totalling 202 MW, and small-sized hydro power projects coming to 0.2 MW.

These projects need to sign contracts with utilities by March 2013 to allow them to sell electricity at the premium set for the current business year, which runs until March 31.

Below are some of the biggest renewable power projects either approved by METI or being planned, according to company announcements and media reports:

- Toshiba Corp, heavy machinery maker Hitachi Zosen Corp, JFE Steel Corp and three other firms are to jointly invest 120 billion yen ($1.5 billion) over 10 years to set up offshore wind turbines with combined output of 300 MW.

- Trading firm Marubeni Corp and Wind Power Energy have won the rights from Ibaraki Prefecture Government to build separately two wind farms off the coast, north of Tokyo, with total capacity of 250 MW. Construction is set to start around 2015.

- Softbank Corp has said it would build 10 solar farms and a 48-MW wind farm by March 2015, with total capacity of 230.2 MW. Of the 10 solar farms, it has two plants in Kyoto city, western Japan, and Gunma prefecture, north of Tokyo, with combined capacity of 4.5 MW, already in operation.

- Zen-Noh, the country's main agricultural cooperative, will install solar panels with total capacity of 200 MW at 400-600 of its facilities by March 2015, costing 60 billion yen. Trading house Mitsubishi Corp is involved in the project.

- Toshiba will build solar plants with total capacity of 100 MW on the tsunami-hit coastline of Fukushima prefecture, at a cost of around 30 billion yen.

- Kyocera Corp, heavy machinery maker IHI Corp and Mizuho Corporate Bank, will launch a 70-MW solar plant in southern Japan.

- Engineering firm JGC Corp will construct and operate a 27-MW solar power plant in the city of Oita, southern Japan, at a total cost of 8 billion yen.

- A consortium of 10 companies and University of Tokyo will build a floating wind farm off the coast of Fukushima prefecture, north of Tokyo, with a total capacity of 16 MW. The project, subsidised by METI, will start building a 2-MW floating turbine this business year.

- Real estate company Mitsui Fudosan Co will construct a 13-MW solar facility in Yamaguchi prefecture, western Japan, on industrial land leased from Taiheiyo Cement Corp.

- Solar Frontier will enter the power utility market by developing with Yano Industry Co two solar power plants in Miyazaki Prefecture, southern Japan, with a combined capacity of 3.3 MW.

- Contractor Maeda Corp will install solar panels at 5,000 convenience stores operated by Seven-Eleven Japan Co nationwide, an order reported to be worth around 3.5 billion yen.

- Lawson Inc will put solar panels made by Solar Frontier and Panasonic Corp on the roofs of 2,000 of its convenience stores nationwide in two years.

- Leasing company Orix Corp and West Holdings Corp will operate solar farms with a total capacity of 500 MW to be constructed at 250 locations across the nation. A total of 100 billion yen is expected to be spent over five years.

- Orix will invest approximately 24 billion yen over the next three years to build 100 MW of solar facilities on top of more than 100 buildings.

- Mitsui & Co and Tokio Marine Asset Management Co will construct 20 solar plants nationwide in two years, with capacity of a total 60 MW, to be financed by infrastructure funds the two companies will launch.

- The city of Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido will install solar modules on the roofs of all 311 of its public primary, middle and high schools.

- In the city of Uozu, Toyama prefecture, a project led by local businesses has led to the establishment of a roughly 1 MW hydropower plant, with the project's cost of 1.05 billion yen financed mainly by residents. ($1 = 78.2900 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Risa Maeda and Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)