Solar energy development in Japan | Juwi X Shizen Energy
In 2013, two years after the nuclear accident of Fukushima, the recently founded Japanese renewable energy developer and supplier Shizen Energy established a joint-venture with juwi, a German leader that started building wind and solar farms in 1996. Together, the companies developed nearly 70 renewable energy plans in Japan, and are working on increasingly ambitious projects, adapting their model to the geographic conditions of Japan and the evolution of the local market.
Juwi: a German leader with 25 years of experience in solar and wind plants
The origins of juwi date back to 1996, when the two founders of the company installed their first wind energy plant in Germany. Today, juwi is a leading renewable energy project developer; the company also provides engineering, procurement and construction services, as well as maintenance and operation. Besides wind and solar technologies, juwi also works on hybrid projects including energy storage.
Juwi currently employs 850 people, and has developed its activities worldwide. Besides Germany, the group is now primarily active in the United States, South Africa, Greece, Italy, Japan, Southeast Asia and Australia. As of may 2020, juwi is involved in more than 1000 wind farms and 1700 solar photovoltaic plans in the world, with a total installed capacity of more than 5 gigawatts. Flagship projects in the Asia-Pacific region include a 135 megawatts solar farm in India, a 10 megawatt off-grid solar plant powering mine in Australia, and a 100 megawatts solar farm in Japan.
Shizen Energy: an independant renewable energy developer and supplier founded in Japan after the Fukushima disaster
Shizen Energy was founded in Tokyo in 2011, three months after Japan experienced the nuclear accident of Fukushima. The three founders were raised in the countryside of Japan, developing a strong connection to nature and environment. Together, they decided to create an energy company that would support the acceleration of a transition to a 100% renewable-powered Japan and planet.
The company has established a goal of 5 GW of total solar and wind power output installed by 2022, the equivalent of the capacity needed for more than 2 million Japanese households. By 2030, Shizen Energy aims at 10 GW of installed capacity.
Shizen Energy has projects in operation in 9 countries. One of its most significant international endeavours is the partnership established in 2013 with juwi.
The partnership: a joint-venture to accelerate renewable energy deployment in Japan
After its creation in 2011, Shizen Energy successfully developed its first projects in Japan, and started to look for a partner that could bring to Japan its technical and construction experience from Europe. At that time, Germany was known as one of the most advanced markets for solar photovoltaic. Juwi, with already 15 years of experience in renewable energy development, appeared as a natural counterpart. After a visit of Shizen Energy to juwi’s headquarters in Germany that confirmed the good chemistry between the companies, a close cooperation was rapidly established.
In 2013, a joint-venture formed around the main purpose of technical design and construction of photovoltaic power plants in Japan. Shizen brought its pipeline of first projects and its local experience, while juwi backed with technical and financial expertise and supply side experience. “We are pursuing the same vision, namely of implementing a dynamic change process for energy generation as we head towards 100 percent renewables. That is our common motivation”, explains Jan Warzecha, managing director of Juwi-Shizen.
The joint-venture first worked with a small team, on the construction of small plants of less than 2 megawatts. In the following years, Juwi-Shizen connected 67 solar farms of growing capacity. Juwi had to adapt its expertise to the local conditions: “The sites available for solar parks are often in hilly or even mountainous terrain. That leads to longer construction periods than those we are familiar with in other regions.”
In 2020, the joint-venture now employing 150 people announced working on a further 9 projects representing 300 megawatts - more than the total capacity built between 2013 and 2020.
Within the next few years, Juwi-Shizen will continue building projects supported by feed-in tariffs. But the Japanese market is changing, with new projects coming through public tenders as well as from direct power purchase agreements issued by private companies willing to source directly their renewable energy. “We see progressive companies in Japan that have set their own internal renewable energy targets, and are now already actively approaching us”, comments Jan Warzecha.
"Globally, the renewable energy and zero carbon targets drive a gigantic change of all economies. We are very happy that our company results from a joint venture between Europe and Japan, two regions willing to drive this transformation."
Photo credits: Juwi, Shizen Energy, Unsplash