Dozens of Japanese Towns Are Going Off-Grid Thanks to Integration of Microgrids and Smart Energy Systems

Dozens of Japanese Towns Are Going Off-Grid Thanks to Integration of Microgrids and Smart Energy Systems

With energy resilience becoming increasingly favored in light of natural disasters and their impacts on centralized power systems, an increasing number of towns are developing their own sustainable infrastructure.

Team Gemini provides industry-leading technology options for industries and communities to support a modern utilities infrastructure. Our company developments cover needed resources like electricity, thermal energy, water, waste remediation, and more. But what are the benefits of using modern utilities?

Besides the overall advantages of a sustainable community, efficiently dealing with resource supply and demand directly impacts utility costs, resource availability, and more. Energy storage is increasingly becoming a standard option to add to utility management. As recent success stories involving microgrids with renewables have illustrated, renewable energy and battery storage are more and more able to cover resource supply needs.

Reacting to the disasters of Fukushima with progress and safety in mind, more and more communities are springing up in Japan that take elements of self-sufficiency to heart.

After losing three-quarters of its homes and 1,100 people in the March 2011 temblor and tsunami, the city of Higashi Matsushima turned to the Japanese government’s “National Resilience Program,” with 3.72 trillion yen ($33.32 billion) in funding for this fiscal year, to rebuild.

The city of 40,000 chose to construct micro-grids and de-centralized renewable power generation to create a self-sustaining system capable of producing an average of 25 percent of its electricity without the need of the region’s local power utility.

The city’s steps illustrate a massive yet little known effort to take dozens of Japan’s towns and communities off the power grid and make them partly self-sufficient in generating electricity.

Under a large-scale power system a “blackout at one area would lead to wide-scale power outages. But the independent distributed micro-grid can sustain power even if the surrounding area is having a blackout.

Distributed generation uses small-scale power generation fueled by natural gas or solar and wind power arrays. Smart energy systems use the internet to connect appliances and meters to better direct electric power where and when [it’s] needed.

Higashi Matsushima has built its own independent transmission grid and solar generating panels as well as batteries to store power that can keep the city running for at least three days, according to Atsumi.

These practical solutions demonstrate benefits of modernizing grid infrastructure, which are applicable on smaller and larger scales.

Specific to Team Gemini’s offerings in supplying these resources, team members like 2G Energy (combined heat and power), Viessmann (thermal energy and more), ABB (microgrids and resource management and monitoring), and A3 (wastewater treatment and conservation) contribute effective solutions. Beyond these, sustainable agriculture also comes into play, as food resources are critical for survival. These companies, among others, provide outstanding technology and service options to fulfill a variety of energy efficiency needs for countless industries.

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