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Asian Solar Power Partnership Called For At Annual Conference

Friday, May 22, 2009

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Companies in Japan and Southeast Asia that make products such as multicrystalline silicon and electronic equipment should work together in the field of solar power generation, some participants at the annual Future of Asia conference said Thursday in Tokyo.

One of the speakers, Ellick K.J. Liao, president of Taiwanese solar cell maker Gintech Energy Corp., said that it is risky for a single company to manufacture everything from upstream to downstream products. Nikkei Inc. is hosting the conference.

In a discussion of the potential for environment-related businesses, many participants noted that opportunities are growing in Asia ahead of the creation of an international framework to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that will expire in 2012.

There are high hopes for green energy, with Nippon Oil Corp. (5001) Executive Vice President Ikutoshi Matsumura mentioning that the solar power market is estimated to grow to 18 trillion yen by 2020.

Asia produces more than two-thirds of all solar-power-related products globally, but less than 10% of these products are installed there. This gap between production and usage was cited as evidence that there are business opportunities in Asia.

Since last September, the Marubeni Corp. (8002) group has been promoting a business in the Philippines in which methane gas is collected from facilities that process urine and feces from pig farms. This gas is then used as fuel to generate power. A total of four such projects are expected to be completed by the beginning of next year.

Under the Clean Development Mechanism -- an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol -- countries that have emissions-reduction commitments can acquire carbon credits in exchange for providing technologies that help developing nations reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Japanese companies, mainly trading houses, are seeking to expand such operations among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

(The Nikkei May 22 morning edition)

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.