Investing in Japan
Success Stories Energy Pool Japan, KK
Industry： Environment / Energy
Energy Pool Développement, the largest demand response operator in Europe, provides energy-saving solutions to factories and industrial facilities. The company established a subsidiary and an operation center in Tokyo in June 2015 in order to provide demand response services in Japan. JETRO asked Mr. Guillaume Fernet, Business Development Director of Energy Pool Japan, about the company’s experience in Japan and its business development.
Energy Pool Développement, which is the parent company of Energy Pool Japan, was established in 2009 as France’s first demand response operator. The company is now the largest demand response operator in Europe. It established a strategic partnership with Schneider Electric in 2010, and following that, it started business in the UK and Belgium. The company’s attention was first brought to Japan because of the energy shortage that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, and with the energy reform policies of the Japanese government, the company started to consider moving into the Japanese market. After participating in a demonstration project of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan, the company established its Japanese subsidiary in June 2015. Now it has about 10 Japanese clients and is looking to expand its client base.
Services of Energy Pool Japan
According to Mr. Fernet, the demand response solutions of Energy Pool are a new concept in Japan. Demand response is a system through which a stable supply of energy is achieved by encouraging energy saving and mitigating energy demand at times when it is high. The system already existed in the form of electricity companies sending requests to save energy to factories by fax. The service of Energy Pool automates this process and ensures efficient and quick energy saving.
The professionals of Energy Pool consult client companies and create tailor-made scenarios which specify the method and steps needed for quick responses when requests for energy saving come from electricity companies. Building on these scenarios, the algorithm created by Energy Pool calculates how much energy needs to be saved for how long at which clients’ factories. At the same time, the company implements a system at electricity companies, so that they can send such requests at the press of a button. Through this system, a signal is sent to Energy Pool, and the algorithm calculates which scenario to follow at client companies, contacting factories accordingly.
“Our job is to always be ready,” says Mr. Fernet. The algorithm is always calculating the best scenario, so it can quickly respond to the energy saving requests from the electricity companies, and ensures quick energy saving.
The operation center of Energy Pool Japan, KK
Targeting a “niche business”
As said above, Energy Pool has been interested in the Japanese market since the electricity shortage following the earthquake of 2011, and Mr. Fernet felt that “demand response can really help” in this situation. However, at that time the company was young and still small, and Japan was “too big and too far," the director says. In the following years when the company established a strategic partnership with Schneider Electronic, which has extensive business experience in Japan, Schneider suggested a move into the Japanese market, but Energy Pool still did not feel confident enough at the time. After accumulating business experience in the UK and Belgium, the company decided it was finally ready to attempt entry in Japan.
Mr. Fernet felt there was a “10% chance” of succeeding in Japan at the time. However, after researching the Japanese market, he realized that there were no competitors. In response to the power shortage, many companies provided demand response solutions for homes and offices or commercial buildings, but no one targeted factories and industrial sites. This gave the company confidence in the uniqueness of its services.
The reform of the electricity market by the Japanese government was another motivating factor. The company went on to build experience in the Japanese market through demonstration projects, and felt that the reform was seeing progress. Today, Mr. Fernet believes their chance of succeeding in Japan is 90%.
Mr. Fernet said that partner companies provided vital support in entering the Japanese market. The existing partnership with Schneider Electric played an important role. It provided professionals who are experienced in starting a new business. Also, Schneider Electric helped in establishing ties with local companies very quickly, and this was a critical factor. Creating a network with government-related organizations was also made possible through the support of partner companies like Schneider Electric. Mr. Fernet says that entering the Japanese market “would never have been possible without them actually.”
Mr. Guillaume Fernet, Business Development Director, Energy Pool Japan, KK
“I was lucky because I was in touch with JETRO both in France and Japan. JETRO organized several people to meet with me, several experts in various areas—in HR, in how to set up a company, in tax issues,” the director recalls. At the time of entering the Japanese market, everything was new and he had no references, so it was hard to know what to believe. But through JETRO, the company was able to make connections with reliable service providers and specialists, expanding its contact points. Mr. Fernet says that he still uses these contacts, even long after registering the company.
Mr. Fernet describes JETRO’s services as “like having some light in the fog when you are sailing. It's really helpful to navigate the unknown.”
|2009||Energy Pool established as first demand response operator in France|
|2010||Strategic partnership established with Schneider Electric|
|2013||First international bases established in the UK and Belgium|
|2014||Operations began in Cameroon, Norway and Japan|
|June 2015||Energy Pool Japan, KK established|
|September 2015||Moved to a new operation center in Tokyo|
Energy Pool Japan, KK
|Parent company||Energy Pool Développement (France)|
|Address||Oase Shibaura MJ Building, 2-15-6 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023|
- Consultation on company registration and tax matters
- Introduction to service providers (real estate agency, staffing agency)