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Japan's SoftBank forms green tie-up with US firm

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Telecom giant SoftBank said Thursday it had set up a joint venture with US firm Bloom Energy to supply green energy to businesses in Japan.

SoftBank is among numerous Japanese firms looking to tap clean energy since tsunami-sparked meltdowns at the Fukushima plant led to the widespread shuttering of Japan's nuclear reactors.

The news sent SoftBank shares up 4.51 percent to 6,480 yen, the highest level since a share split at the end of 2005. The move comes after Softbank this month closed a $21.6 billion deal to gain a controlling stake in US mobile carrier Sprint.

The new venture, Bloom Energy Japan, "intends to address Japan's urgent need for clean, reliable, and affordable electricity", the pair said in a statement, adding it would have start-up capital of about one billion yen ($10 million).

Bloom's Energy Server technology would let companies "generate their own electricity onsite, reduce their carbon and water footprint, while lowering energy costs and mitigating power outage risks", the statement said.

The Fukushima accident forced Tokyo to turn to expensive fossil fuels to replace nuclear power, which had once supplied about one-third of the country's electricity.

Last year the Japanese government introduced a scheme that guaranteed generating companies a premium for electricity produced from renewable sources and forced the country's power monopolies to buy whatever was on sale over 20 years.

The move was part of a plan to dramatically increase the amount of electricity from renewables, and reduce Japan's reliance on fossil fuels.

In May, US investment banking giant Goldman Sachs said it would start investing in Japanese renewable energy projects, with a reported $2.9 billion outlay over five years.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130718/japans-softbank-forms-green-tie-us-firm