Environmental Groups Urge 20 Japanese Power Companies and 20 Financial Institutions to Reconsider Involvement in Destructive Wood Biomass Power Projects

For Immediate March 14, 2023

New analysis reveals top 20 Japanese companies for wood biomass GHG emissions and identified the 20 leading financial institutions engaged in biomass project finance

– On March 8, a coalition of six citizen and environmental groups,  HUTAN GroupMighty Earth, Japan Tropical Forest Action Network, Plantation Watch, Fair Finance Guide Japan, and Fridays For Future Sendai, issued a letter to 20 companies engaged in biomass power generation in Japan using imported biomass warning them of climate and forest impacts from wood biomass and urging them to rethink their projects. These companies had large-scale biomass power plants with a capacity of 50 MW or greater certified under the FIT (Feed-In Tariff) renewable energy incentive system. The groups also sent 
20 financial institutions that provide project finance for wood biomass a letter of request for engagement with project developers and a request to reconsider investments and loans for such projects.

Wood Biomass Power Plants Emit Large Amounts of GHGs and are not Carbon Neutral

Although there are claims that woody biomass power generation is carbon neutral because trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are immediately released when biomass is burned, and its emission factor is higher than that of coal-fired power generation.[1] In addition, many researchers report that cutting down and burning trees exacerbates global warming for decades or centuries, as it takes growing trees many years to reabsorb the emitted GHGs.[2] There is also the risk that if reforestation does not occur after logging, the natural environment will not recover and there will be no carbon sequestration.

Wood Pellet and Chip Production is Linked to Forest and Ecosystem Destruction in N. America and S. Asia with Negative Impacts on Local Communities

In 2022, representatives of the above organizations visited sites producing wood pellets in the United States and British Columbia, Canada and confirmed primary and old-growth natural forests are being cut down to produce biomass fuel[3][3-2[3-3 (see the attached summary, “Overview of Pellet Production Sites”).

Biomass Power Fails to Contribute to Japan’s Energy Security; Risks of Business Failure are Increasing; Further burden on Energy Consumers Should be Reduced

We recently calculated the COemissions of Japanese biomass power plants, including emissions from combustion, certified under the FIT system with a capacity of 50 MW or more. Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) was the top biomass power producer, with a total capacity of approximately 250 MW from its three power plants, and its COemissions were 2.74 million tons. Following them in the ranking were Osaka Gas, Tokyo Gas, Chubu Electric Power, Mitsubishi Corporation, Kyushu Electric Power, Renova, Sumitomo Corporation, and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. (see figure 1).

The top financial institution providing project finance for biomass power generation is Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG), which has financed eight power plants totaling approximately 730 MW and emits approximately 8 million tons of CO2 annually. SMFG was followed by Japanese megabanks (public and private), regional banks, and life insurance companies, including Mizuho, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust, Mitsubishi UFJ, Yamaguchi Bank, Iyogin, Resona, Daishi Hokuriku Bank, Bank of Yokohama Concordia, and Nippon Life Insurance (see figure 2).

In the request letter we sent, we detailed the above-mentioned issues and asked the power generation companies, “Do you count emissions from combustion in your GHG protocol and SBTi reporting?”, “How do you ensure traceability when procuring fuel?”, and “Will you reconsider your business if you identify problems?” For the financial institutions, we asked “Do you plan to develop a policy regarding wood biomass power generation projects?”, “How will you engage with power generators you invest in?”, etc. We have requested responses by March 24 (see the attached factsheet, “Calculation Method for CO2 Emissions from Woody Biomass Combustion”).

The recent depreciation of Japanese yen and high transportation costs have driven up the cost of procuring biomass fuel. In September 2022, HIS Super Power, which was engaged in palm oil power generation, became insolvent and gave up their business. In Vietnam, the largest producing country of wood pellets, its largest exporter An Viet Phat Energy, was found to have committed certification fraud and was suspended from the FSC certification system,[4] which Japan uses to demonstrate legality under the Feed-In Tariffsystem. Many wood-burning biomass power plants are not yet operational, and their projects can be reconsidered. We will continue our dialogue with power generation companies and financial institutions.

Figure 1: Top 20 Biomass Power Generators Using Imported Fuel

(in order of total greenhouse gas emissions)

 Rank Company Name  Power Plant Name  Total capacity (MW) *Prorated by multiplying the total generating capacity of the power plant by the capitalization ratio.
Total greenhouse gas emissions (tons) 
*Emission factor 1.56 (t- CO2/kWh) (*1)Calculated at 80% operating rate
  1 Kansai Electric Power Co. Fukushima Iwaki Biomass Power Plant, Kanda Power Plant, Aioi Power Plant 251MW 2,744,052
   2    Osaka Gas Gobo Biomass Power Plant, Tokushima Tsuda Biomass Power Plant, Sodegaura Biomass Power Plant, Hyuga Biomass Power Plant, Aichi Tahara Biomass Power Plant,Hirohata Biomass Power Plant 212.988MW 2,328,487
    3     Tokyo Gas Fushiki Manyo Wharf Biomass Power Plant, Sendai Port Biomass Power Plant, Ishinomaki Hibarino Biomass Power Plant, Ichihara Hachiman Wharf Biomass Power Plant, Sakaide Biomass PowerPlant 191.233MW 2,090,651
    4    Chubu Electric Power Co. Suzukawa Energy Center, Yonago Biomass Power Plant, Tahara Biomass Power Plant, Miyazu Biomass Power Plant, Fukuyama Biomass Power Plant, Omaezaki Port Biomass Power Plant, YashiroBiomass Power Plant 174.42MW 1,906,843
  5  Mitsubishi Corporation Aioi Power Plant, Suzukawa Energy Center, Yonago Biomass Power Plant 155.85MW 1,703,827
    6    Kyushu Electric Power Co. Fukushima Iwaki Biomass Power Plant, Kanda Biomass Power Plant, Shimonoseki Biomass Power Plant, Buzen Biomass Power Plant, Ishikari Biomass Power Project, Hirohata Biomass Power Plant, Tahara Green Biomass PowerPlant 132.82MW 1,452,052
   7    Renova Kanda Biomass Power Plant, Omaezaki Port Biomass Power Plant, Mori no Miyako Biomass Power Plant, Ishinomaki Hibarino Biomass Power Plant, TokushimaTsuda Biomass Power Plant 120.657MW 1,319,080
  8  Sumitomo Corporation  Sendai Port Biomass Power Plant, Sakata Biomass Power Plant 100.4MW 1,097,621
  9  oil exploration Tahara Biomass Power Plant, Ozu Biomass Power Plant, Chofu Biomass Power Plant 67.355MW 736,357
  10   EREX  Buzen Biomass Power Plant, Sakaide Biomass Power Plant 59.218MW 647,400
  11  Marubeni Corporation  Aichi Tahara Biomass Power Plant, Miyazu Biomass Power Plant 53.106MW 580,580
  12   Able  Fukushima Iwaki Biomass Power Plant 50.4MW 550,997
  13  ITOCHUCorporation Tahara Biomass Power Plant, Hyuga Biomass Power Plant, Tahara Green Biomass PowerPlant 48.7MW 532,412
  14 Green Holdings LP Aichi Tahara Biomass Power Generation LLC, Gobo Biomass Power Plant 45.606MW 498,587
  15 JFEHoldings, Inc.   Tahara Biomass Power Plant 44.8MW 489,775
  16  Sumitomo Forestry Kanda Biomass Power Plant, Mori no Miyako Biomass Power Plant 41.993MW 459,088
  17  Toho Gas Co.  Tahara Biomass Power Plant, Yatsushiro Biomass Power Plant 38.95MW 425,820
  18 Shikoku ElectricPower  Sakaide Biomass Power Plant, Ozu Biomass Power Plant 31MW 338,907
  19 United Planning Corporation Mori no Miyako Biomass Power Plant, Ishinomaki Hibarino Biomass Power Plant 29.98MW 327,756
  20 Hokuriku Electric Power Co.   Sendai Port Biomass Power Plant 28MW 306,109

Figure 2: Biomass power generation capacity and its CO2 emissions by financial institutions 

*Only plants with a capacity of 50 MW or more are counted. 

*1) Total generation capacity of power plants in which each financial institution is involved.

*2) Total emissions from power plants in which each financial institution is involved.

 Name of Financial Institution /
Name of Power Plant
Number of powerplants  Power generation capacity (MW)*1 CO2 emissions (tons)*2Power generation capacity * 1.56 (kg-CO2/kWh), assumed operation of 7000 hours
 Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group 8 738.4MW 8,063,328
 Mizuho Financial Group 6 711.95MW 7,774,494
 Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Group 10 563.13MW 6,149,380
 Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group 5 429.45MW 4,689,594
 Yamaguchi Financial Group 5 354.33MW 3,869,284
 Iyogin Holdings, Inc. 5 349.9MW 3,820,908
Resona Holdings, Inc. 3 289.95MW 3,166,254
Daishi Hokuetsu Financial Group 5 276.5MW 3,019,380
The Bank of Yokohama ConcordiaFinancial Group  4  276.4MW  3,018,288
Nippon Life Insurance Company 4 274.95MW 3,002,454
The Shoko Chukin Bank 4 274.85MW 3,001,362
Development Bank of Japan 3 261.98MW 2,860,822
Central Bank Financial Group 4 254.5MW 2,779,140
Chiba Bank 4 249.95MW 2,729,454
Tottori Bank 3 241.5MW 2,637,180
Tomoni Holdings Co. 2 200MW 2,184,000
Asahi Mutual Life Insurance 3 199.9MW 2,182,908
SBI Holdings, Inc. 3 179.45MW 1,959,594
Mebuki Financial Group 3 156MW 1,703,520
Fukuoka Financial Group 2 149.95MW 1,637,454

For more information (English or Japanese): Ishizaki, HUTAN Group. Email: contact-hutan@hutangroup.org

[1] Manabu Utagawa. “CO2 Emissions from Biomass Power Generation,”(National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology., p.6 https://www.gef.or.jp/wp- content/uploads/2022/12/bbd4731754105f73e348ee35cca7119c.pdf  

[2] See Global Environmental Forum (Japanese): “Imported Woody Biomass Worse than Coal – The Importance of Carbon Sequestration through Forest Conservation.”

[3] See the seminars hosted by Global Environmental Forum (Japanese): “Visit Report – Forestry and Wood Pellet Production in British Columbia, Canada”, “The Impact of Wood Pellet Production on Forest Ecosystem in the South East U.S.”, “Visit Report – Wood Pellet Production in the U.S.

[4] https://www.argusmedia.com/es/news/2386288-fsc-suspends-vietnamese-wood-pellet-producer-avp?amp=1

and https://toyokeizai.net/articles/-/633934


メールアドレスが公開されることはありません。 * が付いている欄は必須項目です