With measures against global warming and the Great East Japan Earthquake as the turning point, the appropriate state of energy is being reviewed at the national level. Even for general users, the traditional idea that electricity is something available according to demand side is changing and new activities to deliver the limited energy in a stable and balanced manner throughout society such as the “negawatt power exchange market” and so forth are being promoted.
In light of this social trend, Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Company is promoting “Energy IoT” solution that supports the development of sustainable society. Through the combination of the abundant knowledge gained from the construction of electric power infrastructures, the company is promoting an energy service system suitable for the next generation by appropriately controlling the electric power supply and demand balance and the development of renewables technologies together with Toshiba’s acclaimed advanced IoT (Internet of Things) technology. We introduce this time Yokohama City’s “Smart Resilience Virtual Power Plant (VPP) Project” as the latest use case of “IoT Standard Pack” as IoT platform of SPINEX.
Paradigm shift for energy system is beginning to gain momentum also in Japan toward the balancing of the power supply stabilization and the protection of the environment. “Negawatt exchange market” established in Japan April 2017 is being expected as the hopeful catalyst for it.
Negawatt refers to the amount of electric power saved by the user in response to the power company’s request. In the new market, the negawatt generated by factories, offices, and shops is sold to power business operators such as power transmission and distribution companies and retail power business operators, and it is utilized to adjust the power demand at peak period. “Demand response” is introduced for the operation of the market. It controls the demand for electricity depending on the seasons, hours, and situations. Active cooperation by the user is encouraged by providing points and discounts according to the amount of power saved. The “negawatt aggregator” plays a central role in such cases. Negawatt aggregator mediates demand response between the power business operator and the users. Active operation of the market is supported by bundling the power savings (negawatt) of multiple users together to negotiate with the electric power business operators.
Toshiba has announced in advance its intent to participate in the new market as a negawatt aggregator. However, while large scale users such as those that operate factories and apartment complexes have the potential to generate enormous negawatt, the electric power and the hours to control by individual locations and domains differ greatly. In other words, in order to go into the negawatt aggregator business it is necessary to establish a highly precise demand response technology that can optimally regulate the electric power supply and demand under any circumstances such as combining the users that make the reduction requests depending on weather and so forth. Therefore, Toshiba has actively promoted the demand response verification project in order to accumulate the necessary know-how. Especially, in the largest smart city trial project in Japan “Yokohama Smart City Project (YSCP)” that started in 2010, the company has implemented demand response in office buildings, apartment complexes, factories, and so forth utilizing CEMS (Community Energy Management System), BEMS (Building Energy Management System), HEMS (Home Energy Management System), etc. Toshiba has produced significant results in the control of electric power demand level through peak shaving, the reduction of CO2 through the introduction of renewables such as solar power, and the stabilization of regional energy.
In order to accelerate these efforts, Yokohama City and Tokyo Electric Power Energy Partner Company together started in July 2016 the “Smart Resilience* Virtual Power Plant Construction Business” for the construction of the “virtual power plant (VPP)” that combines the solar power and storage batteries that are distributed throughout the area and integrates them to control as a single power plant.
* Smart resilience: a low cost and eco-friendly initiative for constructing facilities and cities that can withstand disaster
Virtual power plant has the merit of connecting the energy sources such as power generating facilities and power storage facilities installed throughout the user side with IoT to optimize the power demand. It has the advantage of utilizing these distributed energy sources in case of power shortage due to a disaster and when the power demand changes with the hours so that society and businesses can continue. It can be said that the virtual power plant is a required system for an energy circulating city excelled in disaster resilience, environment protection, and economics.
Each of the three parties in this project has its own role. Yokohama City provides the space, 18 elementary and junior high schools in the city, to install storage batteries and aims to improve the regional disaster resilience and stabilize the renewables energy. TEPCO Energy Partner has aimed to provide safety and security for the regional communities and establish an effective demand response method through storage batteries and create a new service for users.
Toshiba’s role was the integration and operational service of an energy IoT system that remotely monitors and controls the distributed groups of storage batteries. Through the visualization of the storage battery conditions, the system estimates the chargeable and dischargeable amounts that vary depending on the location, the season, and the weather, and it controls in real-time the charging and discharging linked to the varying price at electricity market.
Due to a very short preparation period of three months until the start of the project, the construction of the system was difficult even for Toshiba with abundant knowledge of energy systems and IoT. Equipment such as sensors was installed, applications were introduced, and then the collected data were analyzed. There was not enough time to integrate a system from scratch that enables to adjust the power supply and demand in real-time.
Therefore, we thought that perhaps we can extract the necessary functions for the project from “SPINEX”, Toshiba IoT architecture and integrate the system in a short time. Industrial ICT Solutions Company, which we consulted, proposed a system that provides as standard the entire necessary functions for connecting with equipment and collecting, analyzing, and visualizing of data, with the SPINEX concept left as is. By just installing an application for the virtual power plant the system enables a quick visualization, remote monitoring, and control of storage battery groups. It is a template of “IoT Standard Pack” for visualization and remote monitoring service that is being implemented widely by customers already.
We have decided to wait for the completion of IoT Standard Pack and introduce it as the IoT platform to realize visualization and remote monitoring. Ease of implementation such as establishing connection by simply linking the storage batteries and edge gateway were also the key decision point.
Thus in October 2016 the visualization and remote monitoring of storage batteries were realized. An environment to control in realtime the chronological data related to the capacity and charging and discharging of storage batteries installed in the elementary and junior high schools in Yokohama City using the cloud as intermediary from a remote location was smoothly established. Under the concept of reserving 30 percent of the storage battery capacity for the time of disaster and utilizing the remaining 70 percent of power for demand response in a normal period, the virtual power plant demonstration trial project is in progress smoothly. Four months since the start of the trial by the three parties, currently the system is beginning to produce significant results for realizing regional energy system excelled in disaster resilience and economics (Fig.1).
Adding facilities and equipment, changing and updating application, and so forth can be done freely when IoT Standard Pack is implemented. Also, since it covers the global network, monitoring can be done from any location. Through SPINEX, advanced technology such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), speech and image recognition can be utilized as well. This advanced expandability is expected to contribute greatly to the control of storage batteries of a scale of 10,000 units and the linking of renewable powers distributed in various regions.
We have signed a contract with TEPCO Energy Partner, the demonstration trial business partner, in February 2017 regarding the operation as negawatt aggregator. This established Toshiba’s formal entry into the negawatt aggregator business.
The separation of electrical power production from power transmission and distribution will finally start in 2020 that separates the business operators performing power production and those performing power transmission and distribution. While utilizing the results of the demonstration trial to the maximum to lead the vitalization of the negawatt exchange market, Toshiba plans to deliver broad energy IoT solution that covers the needs of various players such as the users, of course, and the power production business operators, power transmission and distribution business operators, retail power business operators, etc. (Fig.2). At that time, the ease of implementation of IoT Standard Pack and its expandability will quickly address the wide-ranging requirements of demand response, as well as become the motive force to open up the energy IoT appropriate for a sustainable society.
* The corporate names, organization names, job titles and other names and titles appearing in this article are those as of May 2017.