Following his inspiring keynote at the third Solar Asset Management Asia conference, Solarplaza interviewed Masayuki Sakai, CEO of CO2O, one of Japan's leading O&M and Due Diligence providers in the solar industry. In this interview he shares the focus of his company's activities and their vision on the Japanese solar market.

CO2O is one of the leading providers for O&M and Due Diligence (DD) services in the Japanese solar market. How is CO2O differentiating itself from other actors providing these services?

We offer a unique mix of O&M services that aim to maximize the customer’s property value and cash flow through comprehensive PV plant management and our wealth of financial knowledge. Our services include:

  • Maximization of cash flow
    • Revenue management: maximize revenue from electricity sales and propose technical improvements.
    • Current Expenditure management: optimize O&M costs and business.
  • Maximization of property value
    • Capital expenditure management: Management of effective repair works and component replacement.
    •  In the case of PV plant sale: documents recorded through O&M services maximize the capital gain.
  • Budget accounting, execution, and status report
    • Offer judgement materials for strategy planning, execution, and management of PV plants.

Could you describe the geographical reach of your services?

Our services are focused on operations on Honshu island, Shikoku island, Kyushu island, and Hokkaido, enhanced by our collaborations with partner companies. 

Looking at the (fast growing) Japanese market for O&M services, what are two main trends you see?

The two main trends that we see happening is a growth in the separation between operation services that only take the owner’s profit into consideration; and proper site maintenance, where we check to see if everything is in order at individual locations. Only in those cases where firms that provide O&M services by working together with the owners instead of owners handling everything themselves can both services be performed diligently and independently, leading to the best results.

What lacks in the market, and/or what needs improvement most urgently?

Presently, the O&M market in Japan is just taking off, and the focus is mainly on labor. There is a lack of service providers who also think about what the owner wants from the PV plant on the long run. Therefore, it is important to improve how O&M is currently being done and to apply more specialized knowledge.

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CO2O is one of the companies cooperating with METI on the O&M standards and guidelines. Why is this so important and what do you expect this cooperation will result in?

Regrettably, because of the confidential nature of these discussions, we cannot presently disclose any information about it. I can promise you thought, that in a month or so, we can speak more openly about the new METI guidelines, which will surely impact the market.

In the closing panel discussion at Solar Asset Management Asia you referred to the innovation that lies ahead, including new business models and the application of blockchain technology. Can you share what (at this point in time) seem to be the key innovations that will help the company to maintain and enforce its leading role in the Japanese solar industry?

IT technology is always progressing and changing. More advanced applications involving AI and robotics are quickly spreading throughout all elements of our daily life and especially the Solar industry cannot help but rely on new technology in various activities. We are a technology company focusing on O&M and our technological know-how can definitely be applied to both the new market as well as the secondary market, renovation market and off-grid market from now on. One of the most important things for survival is to adopt new technologies and innovate within the space of the new market. We strive to be a cutting edge company, leading the Japanese market more and more.