Renewable Energy

Creators of renewable energy

Securing a stable supply of biomass fuel by building
strong connections with communities and suppliers

Interview

Eco Green Corp.
Woods Chip Sales Department

Yasuko Arai

Eco Green Corp.
Woods Chip Sales Department

Shusei Akita

Please tell us about the work you do.

Akita: Our company operates a recycling business that processes wood biomass chips for use as fuel and building materials. My job within that context is to interface with sawmills, plywood factories, and forestry personnel in nearby prefectures in the Kanto region to purchase waste materials that are mainly used as raw material for fuel wood biomass chips.

Arai: I’m involved in the transaction of wood biomass chips that fuel the JRE Kamisu Biomass Power Plant. The fuel is generally a mixture of construction waste generated by home demolition and thinned wood and scraps from the manufacture of lumber. The challenge with wood biomass fuel is that its calorific value is not stable like fossil fuels since its water content varies with the type of wood, the season, or other factors. For that reason, we supply fuel required by the power plant’s generation plans in a timely manner while taking the calorific value of the fuel into account.

What special efforts or considerations do you make in your day-to-day work?

Arai: Japan’s feed-in tariff (FIT) program for renewable energy specifies the relative percentages of construction waste and forestry materials that can be used in fuel for biomass power generation. It’s not easy maintaining that balance when sourcing fuel. That said, when a state of emergency was declared in Japan for COVID-19, home demolitions stalled, which temporarily created a shortage of construction waste. Based partly on that experience, I’m focused on achieving stable procurement so that we never run out of power plant fuel.

Akita: There are currently more than 10 biomass power plants operating in the Kanto region and nearby prefectures, and the operators of these plants are working to procure fuel. This makes securing a stable supply of fuel very challenging. That’s why I strive to communicate often and build solid connections with suppliers. I used to work at the Aomori Forestry Cooperative, so I have first-hand experience in the forest industry, managing forests and selling construction materials. Many of our suppliers work in forestry too, so my past experience has been considerably helpful when making deals. There’s a shared affinity that arises when we swap stories about the difficulties of work or our extensive knowledge of wood.

Please share your personal impressions of each other.

Arai: Akita-san is the most knowledgeable person about wood in the company. I rely on him heavily for his extensive knowledge of trees. He answers my questions and concerns right on the spot.

Akita: My impression of Arai-san is that she seems quiet at first, but in the workplace she brings people together and likes to tend people, like an older sister. In work, she's a very reliable partner.

Lastly, please share a goal or dream for the future.

Arai: This is my second year in the company, and in an industry where I have no experience, so most of my energy is going toward simply acquiring new knowledge and skills. I am also thankful to the many people in the region who are always delivering fuel for the power plants. My goal is to follow our business plan and make sure we have an even more stable supply of fuel.


Akita: This is off topic, but my hobbies are amateur baseball and playing the piano and violin, which I’ve been doing since I was a kid. Now that I think about it, the piano and violin are wood instruments. Of course, in baseball we use metal bats [laughing]. So in both work and private life I’ve lived with wood all around me, and it’s through wood that I hope to continue making a contribution to the company and community. For example, I want to be involved in not only sourcing and supplying wood biomass chips for use as fuel, but also in creating a scheme that covers the entire value for biomass power plants, meaning everything from growing trees upstream to recycling downstream. Also, through these activities I want to play an active role in forest management and environmental conservation, and contribute to a sustainable society where our plant and the community exist in harmony.

Related pages
  • Biomass power generation business

  • Recycling - Eco Green Holdings

Renewable Energy