"Attaining the distinction of being the 'first' is never an easy feat. However, E2Z, a local enterprise in Jeju, was recognized as an 'Excellent Procurement Good' in the photovoltaic (PV) system category by the Public Procurement Service in 2014, based on its technological prowess and quality in the realm of renewable energy. Since then, through continuous research and development, we have garnered technological expertise acknowledged not only in Jeju but also on a global scale. E2Z is steadfast in its pursuit to lead the way in new energy technologies, encompassing IoT-based central control systems for renewable energy and energy storage systems (ESS) that the future demands."
Song Gi-Taek, CEO of E2Z
A homegrown Jeju company rises to the top of the industry
Q You started as a sole proprietorship and now lead a team of over 80 employees.
In 2004, I started a solo venture in the specialty lighting industry. We expanded our business after obtaining an electrical license and overseeing the operation of lighting equipment in duty-free shops in Jeju. Afterward, we also undertook the modernization project for the restrooms of the Jeju Provincial Office and the Education Office, and in 2005, we transitioned into a corporation. Although we were modest in scale at the time, we steadily extended our reach within the province. With the establishment of Seogwipo Innovation City, I learned about the Excellent Procurement Goods system and recognized it as a challenge crucial for the company's growth. This system selects small and medium-sized enterprises that deliver products or services of exceptional quality or technology through rigorous evaluation, making them eligible to supply to various public organizations, including state and local agencies. We sought this recognition as it reflects the endorsement of both central and local governments, ultimately enhancing our corporate value.
Q What does it take to establish a manufacturing-based company in Jeju?
Jeju lacks a lot of infrastructure compared to the mainland, particularly in its manufacturing base. To fortify manufacturing competitiveness, companies need to make active investments or run their own research facilities. Daeeun, previously centered on power facilities, has now evolved into a clean energy group, renamed as 'E2Z.' Operating a standalone building in the Jeju City Advanced Science and Technology Complex also serves to deliver an all-in-one, technology-driven energy-related service. Last year, we were honored with the title of 'Regional Innovator' by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups. We persevere in overcoming geographical constraints associated with an island-based operation, including challenges in material supply and logistics costs. Simultaneously, we place significant emphasis on in-house R&D to transition into a total energy solutions provider, departing from conventional manufacturing practices.
Q You were selected as the only excellent procurement good in Jeju in the ESS category. Could you share the story behind this achievement?
Beginning as a one-person enterprise, we were registered in Jeju as a manufacturing business specializing in renewable energy equipment and installation in 2004. Subsequently, we commenced production of automatic control panels, instrumentation devices, and PV systems. In 2012, we established an in-house R&D center. To prosper as a manufacturing company, bold investments became an essential prerequisite. As we geared up to expand our business nationwide beyond Jeju, our PV system earned the distinction of being an excellent procurement good in 2014. The same recognition extended to our building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems and energy storage systems (ESS). Currently, E2Z focuses on developing products geared for disaster and catastrophe resilience. Jeju necessitates a safe response to rapidly evolving environments. Our energy storage system products are engineered to withstand earthquakes and fires, equipped with an integrated control system capable of monitoring the power status across all installed sites. Furthermore, with the ongoing proliferation of electric vehicles (EVs) for a carbon-free Jeju, the significance of reused batteries is on the rise. In creating a virtuous resource circulation cycle, reused batteries are indispensable for hybrid energy systems and ESS.
Aspiring to make Jeju the hub of renewable energy
Q PV systems mark the starting point of future energy and also became the first Excellent Procurement Good of E2Z.
Jeju, positioned as a leading demonstration hub for clean energy, must not only validate but also serve as a pioneering base for energy-related enterprises. Jeju's PV projects boast the highest power production in South Korea. However, solar PV energy facilities require post-installation maintenance and upkeep. Recognizing this, E2Z operates a PV generation system with capabilities for 'power generation trend analysis, fault diagnosis, and power compensation.' This system harnesses the Internet of Things (IoT) for real-time monitoring and incorporates AI features based on machine learning for power generation trend analysis and fault diagnosis. Efficient utilization and operation of PV-generated renewable energy are imperative for a sustainable future.
Q Jeju is keen on green and renewable energy in its transition to a 'carbon-free island.' What preparations is E2Z making?
In 2021, through the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy's regulatory sandbox, we swiftly secured approval for special demonstration projects related to repurposing end-of-life EV batteries into batteries for solar streetlights and utilizing post-use batteries for an ESS-linked electric vehicle charging system. We are committed to becoming a leading player in the relevant industry in alignment with Jeju's green policies, which advocate for the adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy. We firmly believe that creating a resource circulation cycle through the reuse of spent EV batteries and ensuring the long lifespan of renewable energy equipment through maintenance is essential for a sustainable and enduring Jeju for future generations.
Q Jeju boasts the highest proportion of renewable energy generation in the country. It is important to effectively utilize these resources.
In the renewable energy sector, environmental conditions hold paramount importance. Jeju, with robust infrastructure for solar and wind power generation, is witnessing a surge in interest in renewable energy utilization. Recent discussions even touch upon the issue of output restrictions due to excessive energy production. As a leading company in integrated power infrastructure technology, E2Z is not only expanding its business in the operational management of conventional solar PV plants but also in high-capacity energy storage systems (ESS) that consume the generated energy. The time has come to consider not only energy generation but also energy storage, distribution, and energy recycling.
Pursuing IPO through research, technology, and innovation
Q The R&D center within the headquarters located in Jeju's Advanced Science and Technology Complex is particularly noteworthy.
Having run a company for 24 years in Jeju, I have come to realize that core technology must be at the heart of the company to achieve sustained growth. As a company in the green renewable energy sector, core technologies, including renewable energy total solutions, Internet of Things (IoT), and energy storage systems (ESS), must be rooted in R&D to enhance added value and ultimately expand into overseas markets.
E2Z has actively participated not only in various research and development projects but also in government-led initiatives. In 2016, we developed the 'IoT-based user-responsive integrated PV operation management system' under the Jeju Local Small Business Promotion Project. In 2019, we received support for the 'design and production of a tailored seismic isolation device structure for strengthening the safety of ESS systems’ under Jeju's local business innovation growth voucher program. In 2020, we also conducted the 'development of an integrated system for failure and aging management by solar PV module using power compensation function' under the Regional Star Enterprise Support Project. These endeavors have yielded outstanding results.
Q As you know Jeju very well and lead the power and renewable energy businesses, could the next step be the first Jeju-based company to go public?
Originally not from Jeju, I've faced numerous challenges over the 20 years since I founded the company in 2005 as an outsider. It seems like I was so consumed by work that I neglected my health. Driven by pride in running a manufacturing business in Jeju, I worked diligently to attain the Excellent Procurement Good title so that we could confidently compete with companies outside Jeju. While IPO is indeed a goal to strive for, the greater purpose is for the growth of the company and for the employees, including researchers, who have contributed to its progress. An excellent office building and welfare benefits not only foster the company's growth but also serve as a means for a continuous influx of exceptional talent and for the company to stay competitive in the market. To go public, the company must possess a unique proposition that propels it to the next level. This could be in the realm of 'corporate consulting' or 'external investment.' We will redouble our efforts to become a company representing Jeju and demonstrate that E2Z can thrive with its solar PV systems and ESS, areas where our expertise truly shines.
“Let's go together, not alone.”