Interview

Employee interview

Aiming at a goal no one has been able to reach
Struggling and challenging;
That’s why I’m attracted to PPS.

Profile

Souma ITO
(Nickname in afterFIT: Zo-ma)

Born in Ishikawa, Japan in 1981.
Experienced working at a major oil company, and then transferred to the PPS company, there engaged in management of supply and demand of electric power.
Joined afterFIT in March 2019 after experiencing a venture company of battery.
Now taking in charge of securing non-FIT power source and establishment of business for adjusting balance of supply and demand in the PPS team.

Consistent career in the energy industry

Please tell us about your career so far.

I started working for a major oil company in 2007 and was in charge of plant design. I worked in Okayama and head office, and then resided in South Korea for about 2 years. I established a joint corporation with a Korean company and experienced management of a 100-billion-yen-scale project.
After 8 years’ service, I transferred to a PPS, where I was in charge of managing daily supply and demand of electric power. To deliver electricity to customers, I had performed the operation work securing supply and demand in hours.
I turned my attention not only to electricity, but also to the flow of money day after day, so I learned the profit structure of the electric power business.
I’ve been involved in energy all the way up until now.

Unstable renewable energy should be used with batteries
Joined afterFIT to realize the vision

Through adjusting supply and demand of electricity, I felt that influence of renewable energy, especially solar power generation, was getting increased.
Its background was sudden increase of PV plants because of FIT system※1, and I convinced that the solar power as a new way of electric power supply would grow and change the world dramatically.
In addition, I thought it is necessary that unstable and difficult solar power energy must be supplied combining with batteries. When I was looking for a company to realize my vision, I met afterFITand joined.

Our mission is to spread the value of pure renewable energy including enlightenment

What is the PPS business?

To start business as an electric power company supplying 100% renewable energy, we are designing our business model.
Our target is both toB and toC.

In the case of toB, the demand of renewable energy from companies is now boosted by RE100.
To accomplish RE100, it is necessary to supply stably renewable energy and its demand is more and more increasing, but no company can realize it yet.
In this situation, we hope to create the structure with stable renewable energy supply and contribute to spread of renewable energy.
More specifically, it is utilization of batteries and establishment of electricity demand-supply adjusting system called EMS※2.

Also in the case of toC, more and more consumers become environment-conscious and think we can’t rely on fossil fuel due to the issues of global warming and climate change.
To such people, we deliver and spread pure renewable energy, which has a less burden on the environment and is not rely on non-fossil certificate or FIT, as genuine valuable electricity.
We think that our mission is to spread the value of pure renewable energy including enlightenment.

What kind of work are you usually in charge of?

There are 3 points to supply pure renewable energy.
1) Making power source which does not rely on FIT to secure electric power. 2) Lowering the cost. 3) Controlling demand and supply in difficult adjusting situation.
I’m considering a business model to realize such world as soon as possible.
For example, my daily works are considering business model for obtaining power source such as PPA※3, examining how to use and where to place batteries, investigating whether the business is possible or not, and so on.

Constitution of electricity will dramatically change
A game change is expected straying off the conventional line.

What is the advantage of afterFIT on PPS field?

Our advantage is that we have our own EPC※4 business. We have a lot of experiences of construction of large PV plants and we are able to construct high-quality PV plants. It is also very helpful for lowering the cost as an electric power company.
There are over 600 companies called PPS in Japan and fierce price competition has been occurred.
Particularly, in case of companies without power source, they obtain electric power by relying on the power market, and they are affected by even a little change of price. As a result, the price setting has an essence of gambling.
Many companies cannot play their own cards and actually fail one after another.
My point is how we can challenge such a world.
I believe we have enough power to jump in it.
It is also our big advantage that we can follow rapidly changing needs because of flexibility and speed unique to venture companies.
Because of the call for climate change by Greta Thunberg and spread of RE100, the demand for renewable energy will be increasing from now on.
In short, the constitution of electricity will dramatically change. It won’t stay on an extension of the conventional way and the game change will happen.
We cannot identify the exact timing, but it is definitely approaching. Conventional strategies will not work any longer and some companies won’t be able to be adapted to it, and disappear.
We have active discussions to get ready for the upcoming game change.
It is struggling and challenging, aiming at the goal that no one has been able to reach.
That is the interesting point of this business.

A great lover of a combination of renewable energy and batteries
Facing the challenges with supporting each other in team

What is your source of motivation?

The biggest is that I want to see the moment in which a venture company surpasses the major.
And simply, the combination of renewable energy and batteries is really interesting for me.
The demand of electricity increases on hot days, the usage of electricity decreases in offices on holidays, while increases in retail shops... Through the supply and demand of electricity, I can see peoples’ lives. With this in mind, it is fun for me to predict the demand and produce electricity. Prediction turns out correct or incorrect, then I think why that happened. For me, it’s like games, maybe.
And also, each member of PPS team plays a very important role for me. Each member has different strong fields.
In the process which each member thinks “how can I contribute to the team?” and create one thing by bringing each skill, I can actually feel the growth as a team as well as an individual.
This relationship is not just like friends. It has a moderate feeling of tension and enables us to tackle work with a sense of fellowship.
On my days off, I feel relaxed when I play with my children or watch animations. I have 2 childs; the older is 7 years old, and the younger is 4 years old. Recently we are hooked on playing with blocks.
I sometimes absorb myself in it more than kids and my wife says, ‘You’re more childish rather than your kids!’ (with laughing)
I like primeval forests, so I usually go camping and travel to mountains, and just stand there silently. At such times, I realize the gifts from the great nature.
Maybe such admiration to the nature becomes my motivation to work on renewable energy.

Workplace where you can greatly develop ‘what you want to do’ × ‘what you can do’

Please give your advice for new recruits of afterFIT.

I’ve had a hard time and discouraged so many times in unsuitable environment. To find out what you want to do, it is necessary to challenge various things.
Take into action first and foremost. I really think it is the very important thing.
Work environment of afterFIT is so good. No need to be conventional, and you can challenge whatever you want to.
I like the word ‘freedom and responsiblity’, which Kan-chan※5 usually says.
As long as doing what you should do, you have no need to be bound by positions, time, and boss’s thoughts. You can tell your opinion directly to CEO, and right opinion will be accepted in our work environment.
In short, the workplace is where you can greatly develop ‘what you want to do’ × ‘what you can do’.
I think such atmosphere is rare among many venture companies.

  • ※1.※1. FIT system: Feed-In Tariff; The fixed price purchase system for renewable energy. The system that government promises that electric power company buy electricity generated by renewable energy at a fixed price in a fixed period. In Japan, it started from 2012.
  • ※2.EMS: Energy Management System. The system which manages usage of energy by using ICT.
  • ※3.PPA model: A business model that company provides free installation and maintenance of solar power generation equipment and gets its generated electricity purchased continuously.
  • ※4.an acronym for Engineering, Procurement and Construction. The business that totally contracts these 3 processes.
  • ※5.Kan-chan: The nickname of CEO Kanzo Tanimoto. We call each other by nicknames.