'Smart Town' Cuts Power Bills With Solar, Rechargeable, Fuel Cells

2014/02/04 19:20
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

Japan-based firms announced Jan 30, 2014, that they will build a "smart town" by using solar power generation systems, rechargeable batteries and the "Ene-Farm" home-use fuel cell systems.

The firms are Toray Construction Co Ltd (Kita Ward, Osaka City) and Shizuoka Gas Co Ltd. And the smart town will be built in the eastern area of Shizuoka Prefecture. It consists of condominium buildings and single-family houses. Phase 1 and Phase 2 constructions are scheduled to be completed in fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017, respectively.

The solar systems and rechargeable batteries will be used for saving power consumption in normal circumstances and ensuring power supply at the time of disaster (power outage). For the condominium buildings, a system to receive the amount of electricity necessary for all the units in a condominium building in a lump will be adopted, and the Ene-Farm fuel cell system will be installed in each unit.

The Ene-Farm generates electricity in accordance with the amount of power being consumed by each household, but its maximum power output is 750W. Therefore, when power consumption exceeds the limit, it becomes necessary to purchase electricity from outside suppliers.

For the condominium buildings in the smart town, the shortfall will be covered by sending electricity from other households' Ene-Farm systems that can generate more electricity after measuring the total amount of electricity being purchased for the building. If the shortfall cannot be covered even by using all of the Ene-Farm systems in the building to their full capacity, power will be supplied from the grid by using the system to receive electricity in a lump.

The companies expect that their scheme will reduce the amount of electricity purchased from the grid by 60% for an entire condominium building and promote the local production and consumption of energy, contributing to saving energy.

The system of sending electricity among condominium units was developed by Shizuoka Gas and named "T-grid System." Though Tokyo Gas Co Ltd and JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp, which participate in the "Yokohama Smart City Project (YSCP)" in Yokohama City, introduced similar systems to their company houses on a trial basis. But this will be the first time in Japan that such a system has been commercialized for general residents.