Civil Society

December 10, 2016


Hamamatsu City Making Strides toward Energy Self-Sufficient Smart City

Keywords: Civil Society / Local Issues Energy Policy Renewable Energy 

Hamamatsu Shindenryoku website
Hamamatsu Shindenryoku website displaying power self-sufficiency ratio.

Hamamatsu, a city in Shizuoka Prefecture that has been actively working to achieve energy self-sufficiency, presented the activities of its Smart City Hamamatsu project in a seminar at PV Japan 2016, a comprehensive photovoltaics exhibition held in Yokohama from June 29 to July 1, 2016. In the presentation, the city introduced its private-public venture, Hamamatsu Shindenryoku, a power retailing company which began operating in April 2016.

The following is a report on this public-private initiative to create an energy system built on the principle of local production for local consumption. This article is reproduced in edited form with permission from Smart Japan, an online media services provider specializing in energy conservation, storage, and generation.

Takeyuki Kitamura, who gave the presentation at the seminar on behalf of Hamamatsu, advises the city on energy policy and is also a director of Hamamatsu Shindenryoku. According to Kitamura, the city created the Hamamatsu City Energy Vision as a roadmap to a Hamamatsu-version smart city system and is taking various approaches to implement the vision.

"The 2011 earthquake and tsunami spurred the city to move decisively on the energy issue," said Mr. Kitamura. "During and after the disaster, we saw people and entire industries go through power failures and rolling blackouts. Fortunately, Chubu Electric Power Co., the utility that supplies electricity to Hamamatsu, did not experience a power failure at that time. However, manufacturing is a major industry in Hamamatsu and we could easily imagine serious damages caused by energy failures in a disaster like that. That's why we decided to seek a path toward energy self-sufficiency."

Like other government agencies in Japan which tend to have tall organizational structures with organizational "silos," Hamamatsu City manages different renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic (PV) solar, wind, biomass, medium- and small-scale hydro, and small-scale thermal, under different jurisdictions. To improve this situation, the mayor pursued a top-down approach and established the New Energy Promotion Department (currently Energy Policy Division), which is a cross-sectional department. As a master plan, he also formulated the Hamamatsu City Energy Vision.

Potential for complete energy self-sufficiency

The mayor's vision is to realize the "Hamamatsu version of a smart city"--a resilient, low-carbon municipality free from energy-related concerns. The vision states that Hamamatsu City will introduce an autonomous distributed power source system, promote energy conservation, and redesign communities to use energy wisely.

Compared to the 5 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity it consumes every year, Hamamatsu City sees a renewable energy generation potential of 2.73 million MWh from all sources: 1.19 million MWh from PV, 1.42 million MWh from large-scale wind, 110,000 MWh from biomass, and 9,000 MWh from microhydro. By adding to this the amount of electricity generated by existing large- and medium-scale hydropower plants on the Tenryu River, the city expects to be fully self-sufficient in energy.

City sees rising power self-sufficiency

Through subsidies and other measures, the city has managed to increase its power self-sufficiency ratio from 4.3 percent in fiscal 2011 to 10.0 percent at the end of fiscal 2015. The city says it aims to increase the ratio to 20.3 percent by fiscal 2030. "These figures don't include capacity from large- and medium-scale hydropower, which, when added, raises the self-sufficiency ratio at the end of fiscal 2015 to 56.6 percent," says Kitamura.

The Energy Vision also sets out the goal for Hamamatsu to become Japan's leader in solar power generation. Hamamatsu is ideally located for solar, with more hours of sunlight than other cities across the country.

For residents, Hamamatsu City provides subsidies for solar panel installation and has so far attained 55 megawatts (MW) of generation potential, an average of 4.7 kilowatt (kW) output per household. The city is also utilizing idle lots in the city and school rooftops for solar power generation. The city has relaxed regulations on solar power installation and has set up a Hamamatsu Solar Center to provide businesses with support and advice, lending full support to its promotion. Solar deployment has risen dramatically as a result: the city now has 36 "mega-solar" power plants, solar arrays with at least 1MW in generation capacity. Topping Okayama City in second place, it also has the highest number of plants with a capacity over 10kW, at 3463 plants as of fiscal 2014. And it ranks the highest in total solar generation capacity, at 180,225kW.

New power company to promote local generation

To close the energy loop using these large and growing electricity sources, Hamamatsu City established Hamamatsu New Electric Power Co. The joint venture power company is funded with capital from Hamamatsu City and eight other organizations based in and out of the city, including NTT Facilities, NEC Capital Solutions, and local businesses such as Chubu Gas and Enshu Railway. The company sources some 11,000 kW in electricity from solar power plants at 16 locations and from biomass power at the incineration plant. The electricity is sold to public facilities, households, and offices.

Kitamura says, "Among the output sources, biomass produces electricity consistently, while solar power generation is unstable, fluctuating over time depending on the amount of solar radiation. To maximize sales, we try to develop consumption patterns that closely match these fluctuations, and promote sales targeting mainly business buildings. We are currently focused on selling electricity, but we plan to expand the scope of our services, first into comprehensive energy services and then further into comprehensive daily living support services. Essentially, we aim to create a Japanese version of Stadtwerke, a community-based organization in Germany which operates in the energy and infrastructure field.

Through the Hamamatsu Smart City Promotion Council established in June 2015, the city is working to make industrial complexes in the third Miyakoda district smarter. Kitamura says, "Hamamatsu City is said to be a microcosm of Japan, since the city is composed of urban, industrial, and agricultural areas. By attracting various businesses to this field, we hope to tap into the dynamism of the private sector toward creating an self-sufficient energy system."

Source: Smart Japan (in Japanese)