The Origin Story of GPSS
Aiming for a sustainable society, through sustainable energy. At GPSS, our mission, vision and actions are not merely to make a profit, but to carve the way to a happier future. After a successful career at Merrill Lynch Securities, GPSS founder, Masaaki Mezaki, traveled around the world and arrived at not only an idea, but a philosophy of “Grid Parity for Sustainable Society (GPSS).”
GPSS’ goal is to move to a fully 100% sustainable society. The companyʼs name, GPSS, symbolizes our desire to create a sustainable society through achieving “grid parity”, where renewable energy costs are lower than fossil fuels. This efficiency can only be achieved through a true passion. From its very first time, Mezaki-san, founding President, realized his dream to build a company that would also reflect his own values and philosophy to share happiness around him, instead of focusing only on corporate profit.
First encountering this internal question as a teenager, Mezaki was shocked by the way of life of people of the same generation who he met in Europe while studying abroad; culture(s) that respects individuals is so truly very opposite that of Japan, where societal pressure is strong. Mezaki discovered that boy and girls who came of age in Europe have their own opinions and are passionately enjoying their lives. Thus, he could not help but ask himself, ‘Does Japanese society truly make people happy?’ It was at this moment when intense doubts arose in him that would determine his future path and actions.
After graduating from university, Mezaki joined Merrill Lynch Securities, a major foreign investment bank, with the personal goal of building his own start-up business in the future. However, what he felt at the forefront of the world of business was always the fixation on capitalism and the worship of money prevailing in the financial sector. As humans, do we not lose sight of the more important things in life for the sake of business and/or marketing? After a successful five-year stint at Merrill Lynch, Mezaki made the decision to leave this top securities firm due to this internal moral conflict which tormented him.
Upon departing Merril Lynch, Mezaki embarked on a journey in search of an index for Life. His travels found him training in India and trekking across both South America and Africa … what he discovered at each of his destinations around the world is the common principle that every society finds its members in pursuit of personal well-being, as well as the fact that if there is a social system which leads people to happiness, that society will thrive. After his travels, Mezaki came to the conclusion that he wished to, “lead Japan to a transformation into a society where individuals can pursue happiness.” With this driving vision, Mezaki made the decision to return to Japan and take the fruits of a journey which spanned over 100 countries and use them to plant a new seed for the future of Japanese society.
Embarking on a start-up venture in the sector of clean energy, with the dream to change Japanese society, Mezaki, with a background as an international cultural analyst, devised the idea of “starting a business with energy that does not burden the Earth”. With this, a small company in which individuals play a leading role was founded. The aim was, and still is, to solve Japan’s issues in the energy sector, utilizing a business format which allow for the pursuit of well-being of both individuals and society at the same time. In 2012, with the philosophy of “Grid Parity for Sustainable Society”, Japan Megasolar Inc., the predecessor of GPSS, was founded.
The setting of this origin story is Hokkaido, with a ‘DIY solar power plant’ which Mezaki built with a few friends in the middle of a snowstorm. The number of allies keen on this adventure gradually increased, and the company saw both itself and its performance steadily grow. However, its main business at that time was the development and construction of power plants. The conundrum? Even if you sell the power plant which you built and make a profit, the structure is the same as the existing business. If nothing else were to be done, would not this band of merry friends crusading for a stable society fall once again into the very same dilemma which Mezaki experienced in the financial industry? Despite the growth of the company, Mezaki still battled this internal conflict.
The turning point was in finance, where Mezaki was on the verge of losing sight of himself. Takahiro Kurata (currently the Co-Representative Board Director of the group), a junior of Mezaki’s from his time at Merrill Lynch, joined the company in the second year of its founding, which was triggered by an accidental reunion. Kurata’s sage advice? “If you use financial technology, you can own more power plants.” Based on this idea, the company succeeded in making the transition from sub-contracting to owning its very own power plant. Furthermore, the firm embarked on new power-generation businesses, including geothermal power, wind power, hydropower, and biogas. Currently, GPSS owns all the power plants we develop, either solely or as part of a joint venture.
GPSS aims to realize a sustainable society, not simply short-term profits. To that end, it is necessary to achieve “Grid Parity”, in which the power generation cost of renewable energy is equal to or less than the cost of existing power generation. The most current issue is the lack of stable power such as hydropower or geothermal power. GPSS is working on the construction of power plants throughout Japan via joint-venture projects with local communities.
It is also possible to generate electricity from “natural” energy by importing and burning wood chips instead of fossil fuel, known as “renewable energy”. However, so long as resources must be imported, there exists the risk of price fluctuations. In addition, if such fuel is burned faster than the growth cycle of trees, then it cannot be said to be sustainable. Resource depletion, global warming, economic risks … We are serious about solving these social issues, and so we are particular about “domestic self-sufficiency of sustainable energy.”
Through our vision to contribute to an entirely independent sustainable society, we strive to champion our philosophy with passion. Through GPSS’ achievements, the company demonstrates that any corporation can make a positive difference in society. The argument is very convincing that we should not sacrifice our own happiness, nor the Earth, for simple corporate profit; both can be achieved hand-in-hand. As such, GPSS wishes to lead with passion, and sing out our motto loud and clear- ‘Ignite our soul; not the Earth.’