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RP Siegel headshot

Japan Smart Cities Project Wraps Up With Impressive Results

By RP Siegel

Back in 2013 we did a story on a Smart City pilot that was underway in Japan. The experimental program, which began in 2010, took place in four cities: Yokohama, Toyota City, Keihanna Science City (Kyoto Prefecture), and the city of Kitakyushu. Among the concepts that were incorporated in the project were the integration of electric vehicles with renewable power sources on and off the grid and sophisticated home and building energy management systems.

The pilot was completed in March of this year and Professor Takashi Iwamoto of Keio University, who was instrumental in its development, came to Boston last week to discuss the effort at the Council on Business & Society Forum. The project was undertaken with the support of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in the hopes that it would lead to exportable technology. The scope of the project included elements for energy-efficient business and industry, energy-efficient homes, support for green consumer behavior, and a low-carbon transportation system.

A number of metrics were developed which will hopefully lead the way to international standardization at the levels of infrastructure, facilities, and services. These are being coordinated through an International Standards Organization (ISO) task force on smart cities. The outlook for smart cities is for an $8 trillion market by 2030, with the primary sectors being energy, public service, home network, and healthcare.

Among the results, in Yokohama City, Demand Reduction (DR) efforts found varying degrees of success, depending on how the DR was implemented. Reductions in electricity demand ranged from 4.2-7.2 percent with the highest reductions seen among those who were given incentives. The large amount of data collected by the Home Energy Management System (HEMS) provides the opportunity to learn a family’s lifestyle and balance the desire to conserve power with comfort. One of the panelists in a public debriefing session, Professor Takanori Ida of Kyoto University, said that "The entry point here was our aim to realize smart lives and smart cities through energy, but I feel that health care will be a focus at the exit of the project."

The Toyota City portion of the project, entitled, “Smart Mobility & Energy Life in Toyota City” deomstrated that energy savings could be achieved with a DC control system that utilized as much of the rooftop PV power as possible, combining battery storage with DR-type strategies that utilized equipment at optimal times. Results were sufficiently encouraging, that according to DENSO, rooftop PV should achieve grid parity before 2020.  The software, which is called Naviehe, collects data on electricity usage as well as that of water and gas. Its use of automation reduces energy waste. The company plans to market the software abroad.

In Keihanna, some 700 households participated in the study. These were divided into four groups, each receiving a different level of information regarding their electricity consumption. Included were basic consumption, time-of-use pricing (TOU), critical-peak-pricing (CPP), and energy consultation. These were combined with demand reduction opportunities which included financial incentives. Energy savings for the TOU group were 7 percent in summer and 14 percent in winter. The CPP group, on the other hand, saw 7 percent in winter and 33 percent in summer. Analysis shows that much of the variation correlated with times when people were at home and were able to take advantage of DR opportunities.

In Kitakyushu, building energy managements systems (BEMS) that included solar hot water were tested. Results there showed that when automated response systems were supplemented by human interaction (building occupants were notified by email when rates were about to go up,) energy savings of up to 45.9 percent were achieved.

Now that the pilot program has completed, the group of companies involved are now looking to export their gained knowledge and technology, which was Iwamoto’s primary message at the Boston conference. Some of the 40 companies involved include: Toyota Motors, DENSO, Dream Incubator (consultant), Hitachi, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Yamaha, Sumitomo Electric, Hewlett-Packard (Japan) and others.

Image courtesy of Takashi Iwamoto

RP Siegel headshot

RP Siegel (1952-2021), was an author and inventor who shined a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work appeared in TriplePundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, Grist, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering,  Design News, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, Environmental Science, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Eniday, and engineering.com among others . He was the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP was a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 53 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP was the winner of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week blogging competition. RP passed away on September 30, 2021. We here at TriplePundit will always be grateful for his insight, wit and hard work.


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