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Japan's Itochu Corporation has partnered with Osaka Gas Company on a battery energy storage project

Japanese conglomerate Itochu, one of the country’s leaders in residential battery storage sales, is launching its first grid-scale project with utility Osaka Gas and finance group Tokyo Century Leasing.

Itochu works in diverse areas including domestic and international trading and homebuilding to textiles, metals and minerals, machinery, finance, realty and energy. Through its energy arm, the company had sold around 55,000 home battery storage units as of January this year.

The corporation announced yesterday the launch of its new business Senri Chikuden (Senri Power Storage). The three partners will establish a grid-scale battery energy storage system (BESS) project with 11MW output and 23MWh energy capacity in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture, western Japan.

Itochu will procure battery storage equipment and power conversion system (PCS) components from its own network of contacts, and will construct the system as well as carrying out maintenance.

As well as providing the land for the project, Osaka Gas will trade the battery system’s stored energy in power markets, leveraging its experience of energy trading with more conventional assets. Tokyo Century Leasing meanwhile will manage the business’ operations.

Construction of the lithium-ion battery storage system is expected to begin in the first half of the 2023 fiscal year, to go into commercial operation in the 2025 fiscal year. It marks the latest move by a big player in the Japanese energy market to target participation in the country’s battery storage space, which despite Japan’s history of having played a role in the creation of lithium-ion batteries and its rapid uptake of residential batteries – mostly for self-consumption of solar and as backup power in case of natural disasters – has been slow to gain traction.

Itochu pointed out that it is creating products to meet expected demand for storage at commercial and industrial (C&I) facilities as well as at utility-scale. The company in its release about the project highlighted that energy storage needs to play a major role in enabling Japan to reach its 2050 policy goal of carbon neutrality.

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