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Part 1: Ecogen attracts attention with its clean energy business

Japanese companies in Brazil have continued to operate even in the harsh environment of the pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to subside and new values ​​aimed at sustainability are in demand, this series will introduce the current status of Japanese companies active in Brazil.

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Vice President Noriaki Watanabe

In this first installment, we spoke with Noriaki Watanabe, vice president of Ecogen (CEO Luis Cabral). Ecogen was ahead of its time and started a clean energy business before SDG business became a hot topic like it is today. Ecogen is a company that contributes to Brazilian society through its industrial base.

Highly efficient and perfect management system = Cogeneration system

Ecogen is contracted to design, construct and operate energy production facilities such as generators for use in factories, commercial buildings, hotels, etc. Their "cogeneration system" (combined heat and power supply system), a natural gas-utilizing facility that uses Japanese technology, can reuse waste heat generated during power generation for steam production and air conditioning thermoelectricity, successfully achieving high energy utilization efficiency.

Depending on customer needs, we also provide long-term rental, operation, and maintenance management services for cogeneration system equipment.

Cogeneration system installed in the basement of the head office

Currently, the company provides services to approximately 80 locations across Brazil, and manages them 24 hours a day from its headquarters' control center. Its flawless management system has earned it the trust of major corporations, shopping centers, and other companies, both Japanese and non-Japanese.

A strong supporter of SDGs business

Head office building

When Ecogen was founded in 2002, it mainly used fossil fuels such as natural gas and heavy oil to generate electricity. However, due to rising prices of these fuels, the company began to seriously consider using cheap and environmentally friendly biofuels from around 2016.

In recent years, the world has seen a rapid shift towards SDG-oriented business, and companies are being asked to take steps to decarbonize. Demand for Ecogen's clean energy equipment that uses biomass, biogas, and solar power is on the rise, and the company's equipment has been well received by client companies that have installed it.

Maintaining productivity and reducing CO2 emissions = Achieved through AI analysis

In February of this year, the company also launched a consulting business called "Ecogen360°," which uses AI to analyze energy consumption and CO2 emission data from clients' facilities and diagnoses how they can reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions while maintaining productivity.

In Brazil, the decarbonization of companies is accelerating. In the future, the company plans to evolve its existing business into a service that "provides comprehensive support for customers' decarbonization efforts," such as supporting the carbon credit issuance process using data on CO2 emission reduction effects.

Ecogen aims to contribute to the stable and sustainable development of the Brazilian economy and society while meeting the demands of Brazilian industry, which is a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the face of the climate change issue facing humanity.

The company culture is Brazilian and open-minded

Ecogen was established in 2002 as a sister company of the gas company Comgas, and 10 years ago Mitsui & Co. invested in it, making it a wholly owned subsidiary. However, at first glance there is no sign of the Mitsui company in the head office.

Ecogen is recognized by the market and customers as a unique brand.

Ecogen's corporate culture is Brazilian, as seen in its open communication that transcends job titles, its proactive approach to challenges, its open-mindedness and highly independent decision-making, while also carefully analyzing the results.

An office where you can work wherever you want

The interior of the office, which was renovated during the COVID-19 pandemic, has an ecological atmosphere, and Japanese-inspired designs are used throughout. With the implementation of home offices, employees no longer have fixed seats within the company. The environment is set up so that employees can work freely and relax wherever they like. There is also a meditation room, making it a unique space that takes into consideration the sustainability of employees' minds and bodies.

"Environmental measures are my life's work" - Vice President Watanabe, who also has ties to the Japanese community

Watanabe, who began his posting in December 2021, has overseen Brazil's power generation sector for over four years at the head office. He believes Brazil, which is rich in renewable environmental resources and biofuels, has great potential, and said, "I consider combating climate change to be my personal life's work. Brazil places great importance on environmental policies and is attracting attention from around the world, so I personally believe it is the best stage for me."

He hadn't expected to be posted to Brazil. However, he discovered that his wife's grandfather was a second-generation Japanese who had been born and raised in Brazil before the war. When he entered his grandfather-in-law's name into the immigrant list search machine at the Japanese Immigration Museum, the name of his grandfather-in-law's family came up. As he looked at the search screen, he felt a real connection between himself and Brazil, and it warmed his heart.

He also took part in the Japanese Festival and the Bon Odori festival, and was impressed by how many Japanese Brazilians have maintained traditional Japanese culture, such as food and festivals, while also assimilating into Brazilian society.

Official name: Ecogen Brasil Soluções Energéticas SA
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Established: October 2002
Number of employees: 300
Business description: Energy services for industry and commerce in Brazil


*This article is reprinted from Brasil Nippou (April 1, 2023).


© 2023 Tomoko Oura

Brazil business clean energy Ecogen360 (firm) economics Japanese business enterprises management power resources
About this series

Japanese companies in Brazil have continued to operate even amid the harsh conditions of the pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to calm down and new values ​​aimed at sustainability are required, this series will introduce the current status of Japanese companies active in Brazil. This is a project sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Brazil. Reprinted from the Newspaper Brasil Nippou.

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About the Author

Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1979, he grew up in Kobe until graduating from high school. After graduating from university, he has been living in Sao Paulo, Brazil since 2001. He is currently working as a freelance reporter and writer for local media outlets aimed at Japanese people, as well as engaged in editing work.

(Updated September 2023)

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