Sunday, August 28, 2011

No. 77: Smart city gets a grip on reality (August 29, 2011)

Panasonic is building a smart city in its ex-plant site in Kanagawa Prefecture to build a community that is self-reliance in energy. All the 1,000 houses will be equipped with a photovoltaic generator and a battery with the state-of-the-art environment technology like the energy controlling system to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 70% of the 1990 level. In alliance with Tokyo Gas and Orix, the company plans to open the community in 2013.

Another smart city project is going on in Chiba Prefecture under the initiative of Mitsui Fudosan. Named Kashiwanoha Campus City Project, it will be composed of hotels and office buildings near the Kashiwanoha station of Tsukuba Express railway. It is scheduled to be opened in the spring of 2014. It will have an integrated system to manage energy for an area of 127,000 square meters. The developer plans to introduce a system to curb energy consumption automatically when consumption exceeds the upper limit and a system to share electricity by photovoltaic generation between facilities.

The world smart city market is estimated to increase from 4.5 trillion yen in 2010 to 18 trillion yen in 2020. Japan is behind the world in introducing renewable energy and slow in investing smart grids because 10 electric power companies have been enjoying monopoly in their respective areas. However, the situation is changing quite rapidly. Seeing the current power shortage, it is an urgent task for Japan to build an energy-saving society. Companies involved in energy-saving technology both at home and abroad are rushing to the Japanese market.

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