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The history of Ciel & Terre Japan, where floating solar begins

1/09/22

Ciel & Terre Japan is the first subsidiary of the French floating solar pioneer Ciel & Terre International. Discover more about its history, its evolution and its present thanks to the contribution of the people who has made it what is now.

The very begining of the floating solar industry in Japan started with Ciel & Terre

The space scarcity in Japan: one of the reasons for the creation of Ciel & Terre Japan

Japan is one of the most obvious countries to host floating PV power plants as it is an island nation with heavy land constraints. Besides, it is very industrialized with significantly growing energy use. After the Fukushima disaster in 2012, Japan was looking to rethink its local independent energy production to compensate for the closure of all their nuclear plants.

2012: The start of the Japanese floating solar adventure

The first version of our floating PV product Hydrelio came out in 2012. The same year, we participated in the European Gateway exhibition in Tokyo after being approached and invited by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) to expand our activities in Japan. Many energy project developers got interested in our technology and in floating solar, which was a brand concept at that time! One year later, we delivered and inaugurated our first project in Okegawa, which really allowed us to kick start the business and start navigating the Japanese waters. We actually achieved the world first MW-scale floating solar plant there in Japan. Following that, the demand for such projects was really high. Consequently, we created Ciel & Terre Japan.

Okegawa floating solar plant construction site
The first floats delivery on Okegawa’s construction site (Japan)
Ciel & Terre Japan - Okegawa FPV plant CEO

Alexis Gaveau, CEO of Ciel & Terre walking on Okegawa floating PV plant

Ciel & Terre Japan - Okegawa FPV plant inauguration

Okegawa floating solar plant inauguration

The first steps of Ciel & Terre in Japan

The introduction of the french FPV system created by Ciel & Terre

Ciel & Terre participated in their first event in Tokyo at the EU gateway program in 2012 where JETRO organized an event for innovative European companies to showcase their technologies that could be interesting to the Japanese market. This is where we met our very first agent Baptiste Bassot, a French who had lived in Tokyo for more than 10 years at that time. He represented us in Japan until 2013, when Eva Pauly-Bowles opened our first subsidiary in Tokyo, supported by the JETRO. Then, Alexis Gaveau succeeded her in 2015/2016.

people at the origin of Ciel & Terre Japan

featuring Bernard Prouvost, Ciel & Terre founder, Baptiste Bassot and Eva Pauly-Bowles

The meeting of two cultures that led to the creation of our Japan team

It was very interesting as the technology was very new at the time and despite the big interest for it a lot of detailed conversations had to happen before the first few projects could move forward. The French learned the art of “Nemawashi” and steadily grew the team in Tokyo before expanding in Kobe as business increased and local partners joined the floating PV adventure.

Ciel & Terre Japan, settled in 2013 through JETRO, has started from zero up to nowadays, managing to keep the market leadership.

Remi STELLFELD, Ciel & Terre Japan former Managing Director and CEO (until december 2023)

Ciel & Terre’s Strategic Partnerships and Success in Japan

Ciel & Terre received a lot of interest at a high level as the technology offers an obvious answer to some of the challenges to deploy timely solar systems in Japan. We solidified key partnerships, especially with Kyocera and TCC for our first projects then became the leading company in Japan for the emerging floating solar industry.

Ciel & Terre at Tech for Good in Japan

Ciel & Terre at Tech for good

Ciel & Terre Japan : From early adotper of floating solar to leading the industry in Japan

The evolution of Ciel & Terre Japan since its creation

Ciel & Terre settled in Japan in 2013 through JETRO who supported to promote the first steps of the new-born venture company. It has started from Zero up to nowadays, with:

  • 2 offices (Tokyo and Kobe),
  • over 30 motivated and fully dedicated employees,
  • almost 200 Megawatts designed and build up over 130 power plants,
  • by localizing as much as possible the production of the floats and the supply chain,
  • gaining the trust of the local population and authorities,
  • tackling the interest of our innovation to major Japanese sōgō shōsha who became stakeholders of CTI,
  • proposing a business model that seduced Japanese mega banks, but as well regional banks,
  • expanding the fever of FPV solutions to overseas countries.

Our role in Japan to develop the national solar industry

Our floating solar company focused its activity in a niche area by occupying water surfaces in a country where lands are limited and valuable. Considering the latest governmental targets to increase the share of renewable energy, the FPV model is being highlighted as a smart and promising solution for Japan topography. As of fact of proof, we are facing the emergence of newcomers in FPV industry since few years, but we are managing to keep the market leadership thanks to our accumulated knowhow and experience.
Moreover, METI and Ciel & Terre are tightly working together as well to establish the upcoming regulations to be applied around the growing potential of FPV industry.

The need for Japan to keep developping floating solar to reach their carbon neutrality objectives

Recently, several natural disasters occurred consecutively to the settlement of ground mounted solar plants, and consequently highlighted all the advantages of the sustainable aspects of the floating solar concept. Within the PV industry, floating PV has even been dissociated as a specific field which will be eligible for governmental subsidies supporting the solar stakeholders’ appetite.
Following governmental target to reach carbon neutrality, we see more and more companies owning or investing into FPV. Moreover, the trend is to enlarge the size of floating solar plants by exploring the offshore potential.
Ciel & Terre Japan is leader on the national floating solar market thanks to our Hydrelio floating solutions and the associated services provided. Moreover, we propose a smart O&M offer for our clients.

Ciel & Terre Japan’s ambitions for the comming years

Our first ambition is once more willing to keep the leadership in Japan with the strong support of its shareholders.
We also have a partnership with Itochu with more than 30MWp of projects in the pipe.
We have as well reinforced our project development team with the aim to develop wider scale project. So far, we have standardly developed a lot of 2MWp projects.

By Remi, former CEO OF Ciel & Terre Japan,
Alexis, CEO OF Ciel & Terre International,
Eva, Development managing director,
and Laura, Marketing

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