The promise of renewable energy has always been alluring. Now that the technology has caught up to the promise, record amounts of wind and solar are coming onto the grid both in Japan and throughout the world.
But so far startups, especially Japanese startups, have been playing a very limited role in this transformation.
But that’s starting to change.
Today we sit down with Ken Isono, founder and CEO of Shizen Energy, and we talk about what it takes to succeed as an energy startup in Japan, and since Shizen Energy is rapidly expanding globally, what it takes to succeed as a startup in the global energy markets.
We talk about which renewables are working in Japan and which are not, what the real bottlenecks are, and more important, how we can fix them.
It’s a great conversation, and I think you’ll enjoy it.
Why startups struggle in the energy market
How solar plants get built in Japan
How to find wind projects worth building
The importance of going local in a global market
Why the Japanese value land rights so highly
A deep dive into solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy in Japan
How Japanese communities are funding local renewable energy
Why so many of Japan’s startups come from Fukuoka
How Japan can transform into a free-energy economy
Links from the Founder
Everything you wanted to know about Shizen Energy
Shizen Energy on Facebook
Shizen Energy retail green energy
Friend Ken on Facebook
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Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs.
I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me.
It’s surprising at first, for all of the potential disruption in the energy industry, for all of the potential profits that can be made by doing things better and more efficiently in the energy industry, we don’t see that many energy startups, and as it turns out, there are good reasons for this. Generating and storing electricity at scale require skills that can’t be supplanted by new technology and innovation. Furthermore, most energy projects are long-term, low-risk medium return projects that are just not attractive to venture capital.
These projects require a different kind of financing. One notable exception, however, is Japan’s Shizen Energy who is bringing a lot of renewable energy onto the grid in Japan and around the world as well, and they’re doing it as a startup.
In just a minute, we’ll sit down with Ken Isono, Shizen Energy’s founder and CEO. He’ll explain how his little startup has worked with local governments and fought the incumbents to bring enough renewable energy onto the grid that Shizen Energy is not so little anymore.
We’ll talk about that growth, of course, and we also take a deep dive into the current state and the future prospects of the most important renewable energy technologies in Japan.
But you know, Ken tells that story much better than I can, so let’s get right to the interview.
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Tim: So, I’m sitting here with Ken Isono of Shizen Energy, and thanks for sitting down with me.
Ken: Thanks for the chance to speak.
Tim: Now, Shizen Energy, you guys are a vertically integrated renewable energy company. You guys do generation, your financing, and the retail side as well.
Tim: That’s a lot for a startup to do.
Ken: We started with solar but the three co-founders used to work in wind power generation company together for five years.
Tim: What made you guys decide to leave that company and start your own project?
Ken: So, actually, Shizen Energy, we found this company 2011, June, so three months after Fukushima accident. Before that, there was no demand from the market, from policy in renewables, but we knew that it’s going to change.
Tim: At first you were focused on large scale solar projects? Was it just the financing,
from Disrupting Japan: Startups and Innovation in Japan http://bit.ly/2PbtFFG