Softbank founder backs Japan's shift to renewable energy

Masayoshi Son unveiled a plan for 60 percent of Japan's power to come from natural sources by 2030

Japan's richest entrepreneur outlined a plan Monday to rebuild the country's energy infrastructure in the wake of its nuclear disaster, shifting the majority of supply to natural, renewable resources by 2030.

Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of Softbank, spoke at the launch of his Japan Renewable Energy Foundation. He said Japan could shift to renewable energy sources for 60 percent of its electricity requirements over the next two decades, calling for a 2 trillion yen (US$26 billion) "super grid" across the country, and underwater off the coast, that would zip electricity around cheaply and efficiently to meet demand.

"Japan is a country that is riddled by earthquakes," Son said at a conference hall in central Tokyo. "We must minimize our use of nuclear power over the next 20 years."

The business icon spoke six months after an earthquake triggered a tsunami that ravaged a large portion of Japan's northeast coast, flattening towns and triggering meltdowns at a nuclear power plant that supplied much of Tokyo's electricity. The country's power companies are still struggling to meet demand, and the government has vowed to lessen dependance on nuclear plants, though Japan has few traditional energy resources of its own.

He promised to invest in ventures that backed renewable energy and called for opening up the power industry to allow for more competition. More openness would lead to opportunities for new players like Son, who has made his fortune forcing his way into the formerly tightly run business realms of Internet providers and mobile operators.

Son said the 2,000 kilometer (1,200 mile) nationwide power grid he proposed could eventually be expanded to all of Asia, in a massive grid that would run 36,000 kilometers and link Japan with countries including India, China, and Russia.

"By connecting Asian countries in this way, we could possibly create a more peaceful Asia overall," he said.

Monday's event was the start of three days of presentations and panels by energy experts from Japan and abroad.

Son, ranked as Japan's richest man by Forbes Magazine in March with a net worth of $8.1 billion, transformed a small software company into one of Japan's largest Internet conglomerates. The company operates the country's third largest mobile operator and exclusive purveyor of Apple's iPhone and iPad, owns domestic Internet properties such as Yahoo Japan, and has invested heavily in online businesses abroad such as China's Alibaba.

He has taken high-stakes gambles to break into new industries in the past, including the purchase of Vodafone's floundering Japan mobile business in 2006 for around $15 billion, most of which was borrowed. But he said that profit was not his main motivation for his energy investments, saying he mainly wanted to provide an example for other entrepreneurs in traditionally risk-adverse Japan.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Masayoshi Sonpopular sciencemobileenvironmentSoftbank

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?