United Wind, TEPCO bring distributed wind to Japan

United Wind has agreed with Tokyo’s electric utility to take its small-scale turbine leasing model to Japan.

Brooklyn-based United Wind has taken its distributed wind leasing model to the Japanese market with a partnership and investment from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO).

United Wind said in a statement the partnership includes an undisclosed growth equity investment from TEPCO and a plan to jointly develop distributed wind projects in Japan starting next year. Russell Tencer, chief executive at United Wind, said the company has recently closed its Series B equity round after racking up commitments from Total Energy Venture , Norway's Statoil and Forum Equity Partners earlier this year.

United Wind started in 2013 and installs and maintains turbines generating up to 100KW for qualified customers through a fixed-rate, 20-year lease for no money in advance, much like the solar industry's pre-financed rooftop installation business model.

Tencer told Infrastructure Investor in July the company was planning to push its leasing model into windy states in the Midwest, but Japan has quickly growing wind energy market as well.

“Japan's distributed wind market has the potential to be significant in scale, thanks to an aggressive small wind feed-in tariff (FIT), which works well with our leasing model,” Tencer said in a statement.

Japan established its FIT in 2013 after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown to incentivise renewable energy projects. At the end of last year, there were 312 small wind projects approved under the tariff scheme.

Hirokazu Yamaguchi, Executive General Manager, Global Innovation & Investments at TEPCO, said, “Japan faces tremendous energy production challenges in the near future and TEPCO is committed to meeting those challenges by expanding access to renewable sources of power generation.”