94% of renewable energy projects approved under Japan’s feed-in-tariff programs are for solar energy generation

Renewable energy Japan: research report (pdf) on Japan's solar, onshore and offshore wind, geothermal, water, biomass electricity generation markets

Japan’s feed in tariff for renewable energy

Almost all projects are for solar energy

Feed-in-tariffs for renewable energy where introduced in two stages in Japan. Large scale introduction of feed-in-tariffs (FIT) started with the Law entitled “Special measures concerning renewable energy electric power procurement by operators of electrical utilities law” which came into force on July 1, 2012. However, subsidies and feed-in-tariffs were already in place earlier for residential solar (mostly on roof-tops of private homes). Projects approved under the FIT program of July 1, 2012 amount to an increase of 41% in nominal renewable electrical generation capacity. Feed-in-tariffs however are not the whole story, because there are also programs for financial support, special finance arrangements, and tax benefits, and other support programs.

Read more detail below, or purchase our report on Japan’s renewable energy sector for more detail data and analysis.

Renewable energy projects approved under Japan's feed-in-tariff program increased renewable energy generation capacity by 41.4% sofar
Renewable energy projects approved under Japan’s feed-in-tariff program increased renewable energy generation capacity by 41.4% sofar

Under the law feed-in-tariffs are periodically reviewed and adjusted. In fact, feed-in-tariffs for solar energy have already been reduced by about 10% this year and are likely to be decreased further next year. For some types of feed-in-tariffs however, increases are under discussions – thus the FIT-tariffs for off-shore wind maybe increased in the future.

Since feed-in-tariffs for solar are set for a period of 20 years, and are decreased periodically, there is great incentive to start solar installations as early as possible, in fact some Mega-Solar plants were switched on on July 1, 2012 to use every possible day. Currently there is a rush of solar operators starting up and expanding in Japan – exactly the effect the Government had intended by setting high feed-in-tariffs.

Project approvals under Japan's feed-in-tariff program for renewable energy are 93.8% for solar plants
Project approvals under Japan’s feed-in-tariff program for renewable energy are 93.8% for solar plants

The renewable energy mix approved under the FIT program is very different to Japan’s traditional renewable energy mix, which was predominantly large scale water power plants

Prior to the introduction of feed-in-tariffs, renewable energy in Japan was predominantly large scale (greater than 1 MegaWatt) water power
Prior to the introduction of feed-in-tariffs, renewable energy in Japan was predominantly large scale (greater than 1 MegaWatt) water power.

Read detailed statistical data for installed renewable capacity and electricity generation and analysis in our report on Japan’s renewable energy sector – click here.

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FTTH Japan Europe: more FTTH broadband subscriptions in Japan than in all of EU + Norway + Switzerland + Iceland

more FTTH than in all of EU

Japan has more broadband fixed internet subscriptions than all of the European Union + Switzerland + Norway + Iceland

FTTH Japan Europe:While Japan initially was late in waking up to the commercial introduction of the Internet – Japan was fast to catch up and overtake

Japan alone currently has about 30% more FTTH optical fiber broadband subscriptions than all EU countries + Switzerland + Norway + Iceland added together.

How much broadband (ADSL, xDSL and FTTH) is installed in Japan? Find the answer and detailed statistics and market shares in our report on Japan’s telecom industry.

Japan was first to roll-out mobile internet with i-Mode in February 1999

Similarly, Japan was far in advance of other countries in laying the foundations for the mobile internet, with the introduction of the DoPa (DoCoMo Packet) packet switched network on March 28, 1997, several years before packet switched networks were introduced in EU and elsewhere. However, Japan’s electronics and telecoms industries largely failed to capture global value from this pioneering work. Essentially only Softbank with the SPRINT acquisition now has hope to capture such global value.

A very interesting point is that in EU there are many discussions and uncertainties how broadband fiber investments can be profitable. Japan has solved this problem: FTTH business in Japan is profitable. We see arbitraging opportunities in capturing value from Japan’s know-how, similar to Softbank’s “time shift” investments, arbitraging the time shift of internet roll-out in US vs Japan vs China, as explained in our Softbank-report.

FTTH Japan Europe Broadband: about 30% more FTTH subscriptions in Japan than in all of EU + Switzerland + Norway + Iceland
FTTH Japan Europe: about 30% more FTTH subscriptions in Japan than in all of EU + Switzerland + Norway + Iceland

Japan has 30% more FTTH fiber broadband subscriptions than EU + Switzerland + Norway + Iceland…

Several years ago the EU engaged our company Eurotechnology Japan KK to benchmark EU vs Japan in fixed and wireless broadband. Our summary was that broadband connections are the lifeblood of our information society, and that Japan was far ahead of EU in providing and using both fixed and wireless broadband, and broad band fiber connections were much faster and cheaper in Japan than in EU. Although both have progressed since our benchmarking work for the EU, Japan is still very far ahead of EU in terms of fast fiber broadband penetration.

Capturing global value – Japan’s Galapagos effect

However, provision of broadband fiber connections is only one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is capturing value and creating wealth for the society. The really important point is, whether Japan’s electronics, telecoms, content and service industries can capture global value from the advanced deployment of broadband infrastructure. As we discussed in detail in the “Post-Galapagos working group”, Japan is being held back by the “Galapagos effect” – and the trick will be to make the necessary changes to break out from this trap.
Read detailed analysis in our Japan-Telecommunications-Industry Report

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Overview of Japan’s Data Center Landscape (opening keynote)

“Overview of Japan’s Data Center Landscape” (Opening keynote)
Speaker: Gerhard Fasol
May 22, 2013
9:15-9:45
Tokyo Convention Hall, Great Hall on 5th Floor, TOKYO SQUARE GARDEN, 3-1-1 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Data Center Summit Tokyo
Data Center Summit Tokyo (Japanese text only)

Japan’s electronics giants – FY2012 results announced. 17 years of no growth and no profits.

market caps of Japan's electronics industry vs US and Korea

Japan’s electronics giants: as large as the economy of Holland, but 17 years of stagnation. No growth & no profits.

Daniel Loeb: SONY’s uninvited guest gives Japan’s business culture a jolt

Japan’s electronics giants combined are as large as the economy of Holland, but did not grow for about 17 years, and on average lost money all these years: no growth – no profits.

SONY abruptly created global headlines (e.g see New York Times), because US activist investor Daniel Loeb publicly encourages SONY’s CEO to speed up change. Mr Loeb’s Third Point LLC fund is SONY’s biggest shareholder at this time – surprising many, maybe even surprising SONY’s CEO, Mr Hirai. Mr Loeb’s encouragement was well timed: Mr Hirai’s will present SONY’s new strategy on May 22.

As we analyzed in our newsletter a few days ago and in more detail in our Electronic Industry Report, which was picked up by EE-Times and by the BBC, SONY recently earns its income, and offsets losses from the electronics and mobile phone businesses, mainly from asset sales and from subsidiary SONY-Finance – which sells life-insurance and credit cards. Therefore many believe that iconic SONY is undervalued, and needs much deeper and more fundamental change.

Japan’s iconic Big-8 electronics giants posses amazing technologies and engineers. However, their current situation is very much less than amazing, indicating huge opportunities. A few days ago the Big-8 all announced their results for FY2012, which ended on March 31, 2013 – lets look at the results together here.

annual net income of Japan's Big-8 electronic manufacturers
long slow path to recovery for Japan’s “Big-8” electronics giants

Japan’s electronics giants: Averaged over the last 15 years, Japan’s Big-8 created net losses of YEN 104 billion/year

Subtracting losses from profits, and averaged over the last 15 years, Japan’s Big-8 created net losses of YEN 104 billion/year (US$ 1 Billion losses/year)

For the last two financial years the Big-8 created net losses as follows:

Financial Year ended combined net losses
FY2012 March 31, 2013 YEN 1143 Billion (US$ 11 Billion)
FY2011 March 31, 2012 YEN 909 Billion (US$ 8.9 Billion)

Hitachi’s smart transformation

Hitachi’s smart transformation (find an overview in our report) indicates that change can bring rapid improvement.

combined revenues of Japan's
Japan’s “Big-8” electronics makers combined are about the size of Holland’s economy – with one difference: Holland’s economy grows, but Japan’s electrical giants shrink and lose money at the same time

No growth

No growth: combined revenues of the Big-8 fell by YEN 1510 Billion (US$ 15 Billion) in the 15 years between FY1997 and FY2012 (assuming constant value YEN)

Many expect that “smart transformation” and globalization, and opening-up to the global society – combined maybe with a rejuvenation of “the Japanese model”, can release the potential for growth, which has been held back for 15 years.

In our electronic industry report we compare the Big-8 electronics companies with the Big-7 electronic parts manufacturers and show that their situation is much better, however the parts manufacturers face decreasing margins, also indicating the need for changing the business models and/or operations.

Market caps of Japan's Big-8 electronic manufacturers compared to Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft
Japan’s “Big-8” may be seen as undervalued

Japan’s Big-8 electronics makers combined have far lower market capitalization than Apple, Microsoft, Google or Samsung

We produced the figure above for the presentation at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo about the “Apple-Samsung Patent War and Impact on Japans Industries”. We used the figure above to visualize the might of the Apple and Google/Samsung camps vs Japan’s Big-8 today. 15 years ago, the power of Apple vs Samsung vs Japan’s Big-8 was exactly opposite.

There is no reason why Japan’s electronics sector cannot regain global strength and value – IF absolutely necessary changes are made. This situation represents outstanding opportunities, which no doubt are attracting Mr Loeb and his Third Point fund, and others.

Understand Japan’s electronics sector: top 8 giants, and top electronic component makers

Study our report “Japan electronics industries: mono zukuri” (approx. 230 pages, pdf file)
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Growth in Japan: the SoftBank group

SoftBank and Masayoshi Son

SoftBank gaining market share in Japan

SoftBank market cap catching up with Docomo

Mobile subscription data released last week show, that the SoftBank group continues to gain market share while incumbent NTT-docomo continues to lose market share – an upward trend for SoftBank, and a downward trend for NTT-docomo essentially unbroken since SoftBank acquired Vodafone-Japan and succeeded with the turn-round.

SoftBank’s market cap has also steadily increased recently and is now close to NTT-docomo’s, exceeding it on some days:

operator || Market Cap (May 10, 2013)

  • NTT-docomo || YEN 6945 billion (US$ 68 billion)
  • SoftBank || YEN 6688 billion (US$ 66 billion)
  • KDDI || YEN 4162 billion (US$ 41 billion)
SoftBank group exceeds 40 million mobile subscriptions
SoftBank group exceeds 40 million mobile subscriptions

Bringing eMobile and PHS operator Willcom under its group umbrella, and by creating the new operator Wireless City Planning (WCP), Softbank group subscription numbers now exceed 40 million, and have overtaken KDDI

PHS operator Willcom joins the SoftBank group

PHS operator Willcom registered for bankruptcy administration essentially because of the high investments in upgrading the legacy PHS network infrastructure, and is currently in corporate reconstruction with SoftBank as the reconstruction sponsor.

Wireless City Planning (WCP) is a wireless operator owned partially by Advantage Partners and SoftBank and other investors, and representing the next generation network Willcom hoped – but could not afford – to develop.

While negotiating the SPRINT acquisition, SoftBank tricks out KDDI to take control of eMobile

While Masayoshi Son was secretly negotiating his offer for SPRINT, he discovered that KDDI was in negotiations to acquire new entrant eMobile. While continuing the SPRINT negotiations, he was a faster decision maker than KDDI, and could win the eMobile acquisition right under the eyes of KDDI.

Since a few weeks ago, iPhones on SoftBank‘s network automatically log into both SoftBank’s and eMobile‘s LTE radio networks, greatly enhancing data transmission rates and coverage.

More in our report on Japan’s telecommunications sector

Softbank and Renewable Energy

Softbank recently also entered the renewable energy business. Read more about Softbank’s renewable energy business in our Renewable energy report (our work on Japan’s energy sector is referenced in IEEE-Spectrum here).

Learn more about SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, and his 30/300 year vision for SoftBank

Report on “SoftBank today and 300 year vision” (approx 120 page, pdf file)
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SONY results for FY2012 (ended March 31, 2013)

SONY

SONY’s first profits in 4 years come from selling assets and buildings

SONY results for FY2012- BBC interview

SONY announced annual financial results today, and BBC interviewed me twice to comment on the results (read comments here on the BBC website).

After 4 years of net losses, it is comforting to see SONY report profits again. However, lets look in detail where the profits come from.

SONY reports YEN 230.1 Billion (US$ 2.4 Billion) in operating profits, and YEN 43.0 Billion (US$ 0.46 Billion) in net profits.

SONY FY2012 Profits come from revaluing or selling assets and buildings

Where do these profits come from? SONY sold the US headquarters building, sold a HQ building in Tokyo-Osaki, sold a chemicals division, and sold the investment in the mobile social games company DeNA, sold part of the investment in the (fascinating) cloud-based medical IT company M3 and restated the value of the remaining investment. All these transactions resulted in combined operating profits of US$ 2.6 Billion = almost equal to the reported operating profits. So it seems to me that the return to profits was achieved by asset sales and revaluations – not by selling revolutionary new products.
Read below for more details.

What are the reasons for SONY’s problems?

In a nutshell, value moved from hardware manufacturing to software and platforms. SONY was in theory well positioned about 10 years ago to create a SONY platform, such as APPLE has created. However, SONY (a) missed that boat and (b) SONY-DNA and Japanese Government policy were and partly still are focused on “mono zukuri” – hardware manufacturing, which in itself is a good thing – as long there is even more passion for software and software platforms, and as long as market share guarantees pricing power and economy of scale as for Samsung.

SONY: propped up by life-insurance sales, real estate and asset sales
SONY: profits from life-insurance sales, real estate and asset sales dominated in FY2012

SONY’s profits come mainly from SONY-Finance (selling life insurance and credit card services), from asset sales and revaluations of investment holdings

The figure above shows operating profits/loss for SONY’s different divisions. Not that SONY changed the way its divided up into divisions in FY2012.

We can see above that for FY2012 (ending March 31, 2013), the biggest part of profits comes from the real estate and share holding sales. Regular business profits are mainly from SONY-Finance, which is a domestic Japanese company selling life-insurances, credit card services and online banking. The mobile phone division and the home electronics and TV division are heavily in the red, and shockingly the game division is essentially a non-profit business (the games division profits are the thin line between “Devices” and “other” in the Figure above) – while at the same time there is a global boom in mobile (smartphone) games. Its equally depressing, that SONY’s smartphone division is also recording massive losses.

To add insult to injury, a recent study on how consumers value brands in Japan by NIKKEI ranked APPLE as No. 1 both for 2012 and 2013, while SONY was ranked No 20 in 2012, and No. 22 in 2013, two places below the mayonnaise brand “KEWPIE” in terms of brand power in the BtoC category for Japan.

Looks like SONY has a tough road ahead…

Read our report on Japan’s electronics industry sector:
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Masayoshi Son: “I am a man – and I want to be Number 1”

Source iPhone 3G Masayoshi Son Masaru Kamikura

SoftBank aims for global No. 1 position…acquiring SPRINT on the way to the top

SoftBank: towards global No. 1 with a 300 year vision

To understand SoftBank, and the planned SPRINT acquisition, you need to understand Masayoshi Son – and Masayoshi Son says: “I am a man – and I want to be Number 1”. SoftBank announced FY2012 financial results a few days ago – read below and in our SoftBank-report for analysis, but lets first look at Masayoshi Son.

Yes, Masayoshi Son threatened the Japanese Telecomms and Postal Ministry to set himself on fire inside the Ministry

A few years ago, the Chief-Editor of BusinessWeek visited Japan to interview Masayoshi Son, and the night before the interview over dinner he asked me to suggest interview questions. I suggested to ask if it is true that Masayoshi Son threatened to set himself on fire inside Japan’s Government Ministry for Telecommunications if he is again refused the telecommunications license he needed to build a telecommunications business. Masayoshi Son’s answer: “yes, its true, I threatened to set myself on fire inside the Ministry – but I did not bring any fuel along into the Ministry”. This story shows Masayoshi Son’s passion and extreme determination – and my suggestion became the headline of the article in BusinessWeek – and can still be found online here.

Faced with such passion and determination, Vodafone never had a chance in Japan – can you imagine the Chairman of Vodafone coming over from London to Tokyo to threaten to set himself on fire inside Japan’s telecommunications ministry? Not to mention the demanding customers: several times I personally saw complaining Japanese customers shout down Japanese Vodafone-staffers until these burst into tears and had to be consoled by Vodafone-coworkers… unbelievable, but true.
Japan can be tough for foreign companies…

BusinessWeek: “Apple would never talk to a “small fry” like SoftBank”. Really?

Around the same time, I had to ask BusinessWeek to print a correction to BusinessWeek’s statement, that Apple would never talk to a “small fry” like SoftBank – read the correction here. Well, Apple did talk to the “small fry” SoftBank – and as a result the iPhone is the best-selling mobile phones for two years in a row, and SoftBank is on the way now to become No. 1 in Japan. Read here about a Press Conference discussing the original iPhone introduction by SoftBank to Japan.

SoftBank on the way to US$ 10 billion annual operating profits
SoftBank on the way to US$ 10 billion annual operating profits (Source: our Report on Japan’s telecom sector)

SoftBank aims for global No. 1 position: Japan’s most successful venture start-up – with a 30 year and a 300 year plan

SoftBank had already received a spectrum license and had intended to build up a mobile phone network from zero, when Masayoshi Son grasped the opportunity to acquire Vodafone’s struggling Japan operations – the former Japan-Telecom and J-Phone. Almost overnight Masayoshi Son arranged US$ 15 Billion in loans to fund the acquisition.

The acquisition was announced on Friday March 17, 2006, and the following Monday, Masayoshi Son moved all the remaining staff (minus most expatriates) from the Vodafone-Atago-office to Softbank’s offices in Shiodome, and shut down the Atago-offices to make a clear break. It took Masayoshi Son only a few months until it was clear that the turn-round will be successful. And now with the planned SPRINT acquisition, Softbank is on track to target global No. 1 position.

Softbank and Renewable Energy

Softbank recently also entered the renewable energy business. Read more about Softbank’s renewable energy business in our Renewable energy report (our work on Japan’s energy sector is referenced in IEEE-Spectrum here and here in The Economist).

SoftBank aims for global No. 1 position: Learn more about SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, and his 30/300 year vision for SoftBank

Report on “SoftBank today and 300 year vision” (approx 120 page, pdf file)
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Copyright notice:

The photograph of Masayoshi Son is used under Creative Commons license according to Wikipedia.
Copyright details are:
Description English: Masayoshi Son on July 11, 2008
Date 11 July 2008, 12:11:02
Source iPhone 3G Masayoshi Son Masaru Kamikura (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kamikura/2658524938/)
Author Masaru Kamikura (http://www.flickr.com/people/20119192@N00) from Japan
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en) license.

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Japan telecom sector financial results and the Softbank-Sprint take-over battle

SoftBank and Masayoshi Son

SoftBank seeks to win, where Docomo failed – taking Japan’s telecoms know-how global

Japan telecom sector financial results: very very healthy

With SoftBank and DISH battling for US mobile operator SPRINT, the eyes are on Japan’s very healthy mobile phone sector, which a few days ago announced financial results for FY 2012. Japan’s mobile operators combined achieve about US$ 120 billion in revenues and income margins are among the highest globally.

The size, success and extremely advanced state of Japan’s mobile phone sector, SoftBank’s excellence, and Masayoshi Son’s midas touch give SoftBank the strength to go for an acquisition of SPRINT – and to aim for the large scale globalization which DoCoMo tried, but could not achieve about 10 years ago.

Japan's mobile operator revenues are about US$ 120 billion and growing
Japan’s mobile operator revenues are about US$ 120 billion and growing

Japan’s mobile operators DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank are growing steadily

Japan’s mobile phone operators are protected by government licenses, but within this scope, there is passionate competition and there are many M&A actions. With high investments in infrastructure, Japan’s mobile phone sector is among the most advanced in the world. Japan initiated the global mobile internet revolution.

Combined, Japan’s mobile operators achieve about US$ 120 billion in sales annually

Combined, Japan’s mobile operators achieve about US$ 120 billion in sales annually, and the size of Japan’s mobile industry has been growing steadily ever since mobile phones started in Japan.

The Figure above clearly shows the growth of SoftBank from a small venture to one of the world’s largest telecom operators, and the acquisition and turn-round of Vodafone-Japan.

SoftBank aims for US$ 10 billion operating income/year
SoftBank aims for US$ 10 billion operating income/year

SoftBank is on track to achieve the target of YEN 1 Trillion operating income/year by FY 2016

FY2012 financial results announced a few days ago show that SoftBank has overtaken KDDI in terms of operating profits, is on track to overtake DoCoMo and to achieve its target of YEN 1 Trillion (US$ 10 Billion) in operating profits by 2016 – this while investing heavily in infrastructure in Japan, and paying down debt remaining from the acquisition of Vodafone-Japan.

Operator Operating income/year
China Mobile US$ 24.4 Billion
Vodafone US$ 17.4 Billion
Verizon US$ 13.2 Billion
SoftBank US$ 7.5 Billion, 2016-target: US$ 10 billion

More in our report on Japan’s telecom sector

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US$ 15 billion losses for Japan’s electricity sector continue

Japan's energy sector

On April 30 Japan’s electricity operators announced their financial results for the financial year that ended on March 31.

Japan’s ten regional electricity operators again announced combined net losses in excess of US$ 15 billion for the Financial Year ending March 31, 2013, similar in size as the previous year: energy remains one of Japan’s most pressing problems.

Japan's electricity operators announce losses higher than US$ 15 billion
Japan’s electricity operators announce losses higher than US$ 15 billion

Losses continue

For Financial Year FY2010, which ended March 31, 2011 three weeks after the March 11, 2011 disaster, Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) already announced net losses in excess of US$ 10 billion as an immediate consequence of the nuclear disaster at their Fukushima nuclear power station. In FY2010 other electricity operators beyond TEPCO were not yet substantially affected.

In FY2011 (ending March 31, 2012) and FY2012 (ending March 31, 2013) all electricity operators (except Okinawa Electric Power Corporation) were directly affected by the stop of all except 2 of Japan’s nuclear power stations, and by the replacement of nuclear power with thermal power stations – mainly fired by LNG.

Currently all Japanese regional electricity operators, except Hokuriku Electric Power Corporation and Okinawa Electric Power Corporations show net losses.

These losses drive dramatic actions to reduce fuel cost, to introduce renewable energy, to introduce demand management and smart-grids, and liberalization of Japan’s electricity sector.

Net margins are negative for all but two electricity operators

Only Okinawa Electric Power Corporation (which operates no nuclear power stations and is not linked to any other region) continues to announce profits. Hokuriku Electric Power Corporation announced very small profits, while all other eight regional power companies show large negative margins.

All but two regional electricity operators announce losses
All but two regional electricity operators announce losses

Electricity revenues show no slow-down

Electricity revenue statistics show a striking slow-down as a consequence of the Lehman shock. No such slow-down occurred as a consequence of the March 11, 2011 Tohoku disaster. Partially of course revenue increases are due to price increases to offset increased fuel costs.

Unlike the Lehman shock, March 11, 2011 did not impact revenues
Unlike the Lehman shock, March 11, 2011 did not impact revenues

More details and analysis in our report on Japan’s energy sector

Read an article in The Economist, which is partly based on our input, and our reports.

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