TOKYO Feb 13 Alternative energy investment firm
Equis Funds Group plans to raise $500 million over the next year
to fund solar energy projects in Japan where the use of
renewable energy is expected to at least double over the next 15
Equis has already collected funds from foreign investors
keen to tap a rare opportunity to invest in Japanese
infrastructure, a sector largely financed by domestic
corporations, company partner Adam Ballin said on Wednesday.
Equis is also planning to seek funding from Japan's pension
funds and retail investors, he told Reuters in an interview.
Last month, it raised $250 million to fund Japanese solar plant
builder Nippon Renewable Energy.
"The Japanese market in the future could prove to be an
important market because the country is undergoing what we call
an energy revolution," Ballin said.
Renewable energy currently accounts for about 10 percent of
Japan's total energy mix and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and
Industry had said it expects this share to rise to around 21
percent by 2030.
Japan is forecast this year to install the largest number of
solar panels in the world after China, according to energy
research firm IHS, as the government tries to replace the
nuclear power it shut off after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
A 2012 government policy that guarantees generous payments
to companies selling renewable energy has also spurred the boom
in solar demand.
China and Japan are expected to account for up to 45 percent
of the 40.8 gigawatts of solar panels that will be installed
globally this year.
Singapore-based Equis, set up by former Macquarie Group
executives, is one of a few foreign financial
institutions investing in Japan's solar industry.
Goldman Sachs has set up a company to run solar
plants in Japan and said it plans to invest about 50 billion yen
($488 million) in renewable energy projects over the next four
Several domestic firms like telecom conglomerate Softbank
Corp and energy trading houses are already financing
renewable energy projects.
Equis-funded Nippon Renewable Energy is building four solar
energy plants and had another 26 plants planned. The total cost
of the 30 plants, which would generate 600 megawatts, would be
around $1.8 billion, Ballin said.
The Equis Japan fund is co-led by an asset manager Partners
Group. It is also funded by Babson Capital, pension fund
managers for employees at Qantas Airways Ltd and the
government of Australia's Queensland state.
($1 = 102.3800 Japanese yen)
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)