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Japan trading houses, power companies raise biomass imports

Government promoting use of more reliable fuel source

TOKYO -- Japanese trading houses and electricity retailers are increasing their imports of wood chips and palm shells, with demand expected to surge amid a rush of construction of biomass power plants.

The government is revising its fixed-price power purchase scheme so that the price for biomass-generated power falls to 21 yen (19 cents) from 24 yen per kilowatt-hour, effective October. There is a rush to get plants approved before the new rate kicks in. When those facilities come online around 2020, demand for biomass fuel is expected to soar.

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