Monday, May 14, 2012

No. 56: Building a bridgehead in Australia (May 14, 2012)

Business trend
Japan’s largest wind generation company built a bridgehead in Australia to enter the Australian wind generation market. Eurus Energy agreed with AGL, Australia’s leading integrated renewable energy company, that it would acquire the wind generation plant AGL constructed in the southern part of Australia for about 15 billion yen. The plant that was completed in March this year has 25 wind generators with a total output of 52,500 kW. The generated power will be sold to AGL’s subsidiary for 24 years to supply electricity to 27,000 households. Eurus Energy was founded jointly by Tokyo Electric Power Company and Toyota Tsusho.

Eurus Energy is doing generation business in 7 countries with a total output of 2,100,000 kW, of which 820,000 kW is in Europe, 630,000 kW is in the U.S., and 530,000 kW is in Japan. The company is actively trying to increase business responding to the special measures that ask electric power companies to purchase renewable energy scheduled for enactment coming July. It has been exploring the possibility to expand business in the markets other than those in the northern hemisphere to diversify the risk of concentrating on specific regions. 

Generating windmills operated by Eurus Energy in Japan

Saturday, May 12, 2012

No. 55: Taking the advantage of the growing popularity of geothermal generation (May 13, 2012)

Business trend
Geothermal generation is growing popular in the U.S. and countries blessed with sunlight alike. Fuji Electric, world’s leader of the geothermal generation equipment market with 4% share, will participate in a geothermal generation project in the U.S. Energy Source of the U.S. will construct the Hudson Ranch Geothermal Power Plant in California for 30 billion yen, and Fuji Electric will take a stake in this company for 800 million yen. The power plant has an output of 49,000 kW to supply power to 50,000 households in Arizona. The construction will start in 2013 and the operation will start in 2015. Fuji Electric plans to get an order for the steam turbines and generators of this power plant.

In the U.S., the total output from geothermal generation inside the U.S. is expected to increase 70% over the level in 2010 to 5.4 million kW in 2015. The development of geothermal generation has also been growing active in Indonesia and Philippines. Fuji Electric wishes to increase its share in the world market to 50% by accumulating development results worldwide. 

 Hudson Ranch Geothermal Power Plant 

Friday, May 11, 2012

No. 54: Introducing photovoltaic generation to elementary and junior high schools (May 11, 2012)

Business trend
The Japanese government decided to introduce photovoltaic generation to elementary and junior high schools and use them as the base to supply electricity to the surrounding area. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure,Transport and Tourism and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Scienceand Technology will construct facilities for photovoltaic generation in selected schools in the disaster-stricken areas and expand the plan throughout the country. In parallel with the introduction, the schools will be renovated to be energy-saving and quakeproof utilizable as the evacuation area in a time of disaster. In the March 11 disaster in 2011, more than 6,000 schools were affected, of which about 200 schools reportedly need renovation.

Solar panels will be installed on the rooftop of buildings and gymnasiums of selected schools. The renovation cost is estimated at 100 million yen per school. Unlike a standard household, a school consumes electricity mostly for lighting. In addition, it can store electricity on Saturdays, Sundays, and vacations in summer and winter. It is estimated that a school can satisfy the power demand of about 30 households. Several schools have installed solar panels on an experimental basis, but no schools have ever tried to provide the integrated service that includes power storage and supply besides power generation. The two ministries hope that their plan will support the technological innovation of private companies. A school is not allowed to supply power to outside premises at present, but the two ministries are discussing deregulating the existing rule as a special case. 

 Photovoltaic generation in a school

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

No. 53: A convenience store chain starts to sell surplus power outside (May 9, 2012)

Business trend
Beginning on July 1, 2012, it will be possible to sell renewable energy to an electric power company at a fixed price. Responding to this special measures law, many companies have already participated in the power generation business, and we have another entrant. Lawson, Japan’s second largest convenience store chain, decided to start the generation business within the year. Lawson has about 10,530 outlets nationwide, and it will install a photovoltaic generation system in these outlets to generate electricity for lighting and air-conditioning. Surplus power will be sold to the local electric power company. Lawson is the first major retailer that sells electricity by private power generation to an outside company.

Seven-Eleven, Japan’s largest convenience store chain, has already installed a photovoltaic generation system in 1,400 outlets for in-house power consumption. Family-Mart, Japan’s third largest convenience store chain, has already installed a photovoltaic system in some of its outlets. Kyocera has already decided to build Japan’s largest photovoltaic generation facilities in alliance with IHI and Mizuho Corporate Bank, and Softbank is planning to build a large-scale mega solar plant. The move to start in-house power generation and sell surplus power outside is expected to grow widespread quite rapidly.  

A photovoltaic generation system on the rooftop of a convenience store 

Monday, May 7, 2012

No. 52: Field test of a photovoltaic generation system in India (May 8, 2012)

Business trend
India has been achieving dramatic economic growth these days, and power demand in India will supposedly increase three times in 2030 over the level in 2005. The Indian government is promoting the national policy to introduce photovoltaic generation of 20 gigwatts by 2022. Responding to this national policy, New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NIDO) decided to conduct a field test of a large-scale photovoltaic generation system in the Neemrana Industrial Park in the western part of India. The industrial park is the strategic point in the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). The memorandum on the field test was exchanged between NIDO and the development corporation of the DMIC.

NEDO will install a photovoltaic generation system with an output of 6 megawatts and construct a microgrid system combined with diesel electric power generation to realize constant power supply even in drought. The project cost is 4,100 million yen, of which about 2,800 million yen is borne by NIDO, and power generation is scheduled to start by the end of next year. Currently, 14 Japanese companies are operating in the Neemrana Industrial Park, but they need a privately owned electrical power facilities because of the unstable power supply. A total of 34 Japanese companies already decided to construct a based in the industrial park. 

The Neemrana Industrial Park in which 14 Japanese companies are currently operating.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

No. 51: Developing other kinds of renewable energy generation systems (2/2) (May 7, 2012)

Energy harvesting is advancing. The technology to change radio waves from TV broadcasting, mobile phone, wireless LAN to electricity was developed by Nihon Dengyo Kosaku. This technology is called rectifying antenna, or rectenna for short. Catching radio waves in the air makes it possible to generate electricity anywhere. That is, outside equipment with built-in rectenna technology can receive radio waves for power supply. The company plans to put the technology into practical use within the year. Murata Manufacturing, Ceratec Engineering, and Sound Power are developing piezoelectric vibration generation technology that changes pressure and vibration into electricity. That is, a remote controller that incorporates piezoelectric vibration generation technology does not need a battery because it can generate electricity when one of its buttons is pushed.

Kobe Steel launched a binary cycle system that generates electricity using hot spring. The system heats the alternative for chlorofluorocarbon that flows inside the system to boiling through heat exchange. It can boil hot water of 70 degrees centigrade and create steam, and the created steam generates electricity of 70 kW. This output is enough to satisfy the power demand of a hotel. Xenesys has been conducting research on ocean thermal energy conversion for the past more than 10 years. The technology is to run a turbine with steam created by surface water. The created steam is liquefied after it is cooled down with deep ocean water. The principle is the same as binary cycle. Sea areas suitable for thermal energy conversion need to have surface water of 25 degrees centigrade and deep ocean water of 5 degrees centigrade. There are not so many suitable sea areas except off Okinawa Island in Japan, but there are lots of suitable sea areas in the world. The potential amount is estimated at 1,000 billion kW. The company plans to commercialize the technology as the power station for isolated islands. 

Rectenna to harvest terresterial digital broadcasting  

A sample of piezoelectric vibration generation

Friday, May 4, 2012

No. 50: Developing other kinds of renewable energy generation systems (1/2) (May 4, 2012)

Energy harvesting that generates electricity using such small energy sources as vibration, sound, light from fluorescent lamp, radio wave, and heat from machinery and home electronics attracts increasing attention. KELK, a company of the Komatsu subsidiary, is marketing a thermoelastic generation module that changes the heat from production equipment to electricity. It is a bismuth telluride metal. If one side of the module is heated and the other side is cooled, there will be difference in temperature between the two sides. Then, it is possible to send an electric current between the two sides by dint of the temperature difference. An output of 24 watts is available if one side is 280 degrees centigrade and the other side is 30 degrees centigrade. Although the output is small, this module allows for effective reutilization of waste heat. The company plans to strengthen the marketing efforts toward 2013.

NipponSteel Chemical developed a dye sensitization cell that generates electricity using heat from room lighting. The dye that absorbs light generates electricity when it transfers electrons to titanic oxide. It is possible to increase the conversion efficiency by changing the blending of dyes depending on the wavelength of light. The company already developed the dye sensitization cell that employs resin substrate instead of glass substrate. It can be bendable because the resin is soft, and it can be installed on a curtain or a poster. The company built on trial such products with built-in dye sensitization cell like portable battery charger for a mobile phone. The company plans to commercialize them toward 2013. 

The thermoelastic generation module from KELK, a company of the Komatsu group

The flexible dye sensitization cell developed by Nippon Steel Chemical

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

No. 49: Leasing a small-size wind generation system to plants and hospitals (May 2, 2012)

Business trend
The move to spread renewable energy generation has been gaining momentum thanks to the special measure that obliges electric power companies to purchase surplus electricity generated by renewable energy. Ricoh Leasing decided to lease small-size wind generators to plants, hospitals, and commercial facilities.

The small-size wind generator to be leased is built by Loopwing, a venture company specializing in wind generators. Loopwing’s TRONC is characterized by a structure strong against blast. It does not create wind noise, nor does it need so much space for installation. Because it catches wind in a three-dimensional manner, the windmill rotates with a wind velocity as low as 2 m/h and has more than 40% power exchange rate at a wind velocity of 8 m/h. Ricoh offers four types of TRONC ranging from 500 W to 11 kW, and plans to lease a 500 W type for monthly fee of 50,000 yen for a period of 6 years together with an electric bulletin board to show the annual power output and reduced CO2 emissions. The 5 kW type can generate 2,683 kW per year at a wind velocity of 4 m/h, supplying enough electricity for the annual consumption of a standard household.  

 Small-size wind generators built by Loopwing and leased by Ricoh Leasing