Japan: investing in all-electric smart houses

By Sabine Lobnig, Aug 24, 2012, 16:21 3 minute reading

The Japanese government is subsidising a selection of smart appliances in order to promote the uptake of home energy management systems (HEMS). The Eco Cute type CO2 heat pump water heater is one of the standard features of these systems. One of the most recent smart house projects in Japan is the QUAD ZERO.

Japan is focusing on smart and energy-efficient housing, pursuing the concept of zero emission houses. These houses usually feature photovoltaic generation systems, energy efficient lighting, a household fuel cell, and energy saving household appliances such as Eco Cute.

Jounan Kensetsu recently announced its latest addition to the Japanese eco house market with the “QUAD ZERO” house. The “QUAD ZERO” house concept centres around four pillars, including the all-electric house approach as well as the use of energy efficient and smart appliances such as Eco Cute. The main objective: reducing heating and electricity costs while keeping CO2 emissions to almost zero. The four pillars are:

  • Generate: 16 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are mounted on the roof of the QUAD ZERO house and provide 3.36 kW of power to accommodate current needs. PV panels not only reduce the utility bills but also provide a back up energy generation system in case of power outage caused by natural disasters.
  • Visualise: The operation of the whole system is visualized and controlled by a Home Energy Management System (HEMS). Information about energy consumption of large appliances like air-conditioners, consumption per floor or individual room, real time power generated from PV panels, status of storage system or amount of electricity sold back to grid is displayed on the HEMS.
  • Store: Power generated from PV panes or cheaper night rate electricity is stored in batteries and then used during the day or in case of emergency. The balanced system can therefore supply the mid day electricity generated from PV panels to grid for high rates established in July by the Japanese government as a generous feed-in tariff of 0.43EUR per kWh.
  • Use: Electrification of all possible products including water heaters (Eco Cute) and cooking heaters (induction heater) makes it possible to utilize generated and stored electrical energy. Extracting energy from outside air, Eco Cute heat pumps use renewable energy to provide hot water with high efficiency.

       QUAD ZERO

Jounan Kensetsu is offering a 70m2 (construction ground space) QUAD ZERO at a base price starting at €150,000.

Japan invests in home energy management systems (HEMS)

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is supporting the uptake of home energy management systems (HEMS) by subsidising a selection of smart, energy-efficient home appliances. In February 2012, the Japan Smart Community Alliance and the Smart House Standardization Study Group recommended Echonet-lite as a standard for HEMS and since then a total number of above 100 companies has introduced this protocol for visualising and controlling HEMS.

The allocated budget is 3 billion yen and the subsidy scheme runs until end of FY2013, or when the total subsidies for the devices reach the budget limit, including expenses for the promotion and introduction of HEMS in general.

Many of the key players in the Japanese market are investing in the new trend. Sharp for example presented at the beginning of the year a platform that allows home owners to monitor their energy consumption and verify via their smartphone or computer the impact of diming the light or manipulating the thermostat on their energy consumption and electricity bills in real time. Denso on the other hand is working with housing companies such as Toyota Home and Misawa Homes on a HEMS version that also offers to integrate electric vehicles in the system.


By Sabine Lobnig

Aug 24, 2012, 16:21

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