NEC establishes 100% renewable energy plant in Fukushima- Co-creation with NTT to turn environmental initiatives into business towards a decarbonized society -
Aiming to live harmoniously with the earth to secure the future, the NEC Group is focusing on "Environment" as one of the pillars of its NEC 2030Vision. Sustainability is an essential component of a company's environmental strategy. And this is not just about the environment, it's also about sustainability of business. Turning environmental initiatives into business—NEC has made significant progress in realizing this concept with sales as the starting point. One recent achievement in this endeavor is the construction of a 100% renewable energy factory. NEC is working with strong partners, NTT and NTT Anode Energy, to pursue a new initiative towards a decarbonized society.
First-time endeavor: A "sampo-yoshi" initiative that benefits both the environment and the partnering companies
"NTT and NEC collaborate to promote a decarbonized society." This initiative, announced on April 6, 2023, will establish the first factory for NEC Platforms to use 100% renewable power (to start by the first quarter of FY2024). It will also be the first time for the NTT Group to directly supply renewable power to a client.
The key point of this first-time endeavor is that the power is also renewable energy, so it is entirely eco-friendly. The factory produces state-of-the-art products that significantly reduce the burden on the environment. This framework, which is aimed at promoting a decarbonized society, including supply chains, is in line with the environmental strategies of both the NTT Group and the NEC Group.
Let's take a closer look. NTT Anode Energy, the energy company of the NTT Group, newly installed a solar power plant for NEC to supply power to NEC Platforms Fukushima Plant. The plant in Fukushima, using 100% renewable power, will manufacture equipment for 5G base stations and other networking equipment. In the future, it will also manufacture equipment compatible with NTT's next-generation optical communication platform, IOWN (stands for Innovative Optical & Wireless Network). IOWN, a cutting-edge technology from NTT, is attracting attention because it drastically reduces power consumption by replacing semiconductor electronic circuits with optical circuits.
This is a true example of a sampo-yoshi initiative that benefits the seller, the buyer, and society. However, "getting to this point was not a walk in the park," says Fumitake Inui, who led NEC as the sales representative from the conceptualization of the project. Inui and his colleagues, whose task was to carry out ESG management through collaboration with NTT, turned their attention to IOWN.
Pursuing this "great cause," which started with a sheet of paper, "was made possible through partnership"
It all started with a sheet of paper on a "Proposal for Environmental Cooperation" that was passed between executives from both companies during a certain meeting. Once a consensus was reached at the top level, the concept came into full force.
"This is definitely something we should do. At the same time, I knew we were in for a big challenge in turning it into a sustainable business," recalls Masahide Migita, who led the initiative on the NTT Group side. They immediately went to the factory in Fukushima to begin hammering out the details. "Rather than just requesting them to 'please use renewable energy,' we were very excited to work with our suppliers to create a concrete usage scheme."
However, translating the concept into actual business practice was a difficult process. Mr. Tadafumi Shimazaki, General Manager of NTT Anode Energy's 1st Green Solutions Department, held weekly discussions with NEC on various delivery methods, along with the details of the long-term contract and the use of NEC products. According to him, "If it were a new customer with whom we still had to build trust, the project might have fallen through along the way." "It was precisely because of the long and close partnership we have with NEC, both personally and as a company, that we were able to carry out this difficult initiative." Hopeful of the future possibilities for collaboration, Mr. Migita of NTT says, "having rediscovered the NEC Group as a company with great potential in the field of energy was also one of the positive outcomes of this initiative." "This scheme is the first of its kind. I would like to extend this project as a company-wide initiative for contributing to society together with our partners, rather than only as a group."
"Entry ticket to overseas" towards global expansion
NEC's Inui says, "I think it was unusual at that time for a sales division to be the starting point for this kind of environmental business." According to him, it was not easy to persuade the other people involved in the project, even though they were creating a scheme with trusted partners.
One persuasive argument against the point that renewable energy is expensive in the short run is that products made with renewable energy can serve as an "entry ticket" to overseas markets. Some global telecommunications carriers are now making the use of renewable energy a requirement for doing business with them. In addition to the manufacturing of 5G base stations and other networking equipment, NEC will be increasing the added value of products made at the Fukushima Plant going forward. This is also one of the aims of the scheme.
Through this initiative, NEC will not only promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) for the entire NEC Group but also contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by its business partners (Scope 3). For NEC, which included carbon neutral-related business as a growth business in its Mid-term Management Plan 2025, this has been a major step toward fulfilling its Purpose, which is to create social value.
As everything becomes connected to the Internet and further growth in telecommunications volume is expected around the globe, the decarbonization of the telecommunications industry is an urgent priority. To make the global environment sustainable, business sustainability will be imperative. Going forward, the NEC Group will work together with its partners to create a framework that can be used to lead Japan and the world.