Factory Disaster-Proofing With Energy Solutions In Japan

Storage, cogeneration and LED lighting contribute to disaster-proofing Sekisui House’s Tohoku factory.
Published: Wed 04 Mar 2015

As one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, disaster preparedness is a fact of life in Japan.

Disaster-proof energy plan - a first in Japan

In an initiative to disaster-proof its Tohoku factory, civil engineering and real estate company Sekisui House contracted with GE Japan to provide a 2MWh/500kW battery energy storage system, a 225kW Waukesha gas engine for cogeneration, and more than 600 LED lighting units.

According to Sekisui House the installation of these three energy systems is a first in Japan. They are integrated into a smart energy system, along with an existing 720kW solar power system. The system provides energy management and visualization of the energy usage of major equipment in the factory.

“Sekisui House is working together with Shikama City in Miyagi Prefecture and the regional administration through a private-public partnership that promotes regional disaster preparedness measures,” explained Sekisui House’s Tohoku factory manager. “In order to realize the concept of a ‘Future Disaster-Proof Factory’ that is eco-friendly during normal times, durable during disasters, and safe and secure for both local communities and companies, these solutions are the best.”

The Tohoku factory proactively promotes the reduction of peak electricity use during normal hours of operation by placing value on economic efficiency and environmental friendliness. With the combination of the gas engine and storage battery for example, the energy contract can be lowered by up to approximately 700kW. In addition electricity is also provided to ‘Tohoku Sumai no Yume Kojo’ that can be used for office buildings and evacuation shelters during periods of disaster.

Emergency power

During an emergency, power can be supplied to the office building and building utilized as an emergency shelter. With this supply of power, it will also be possible to supply water and gas. Furthermore, if Shikama’s emergency response headquarters is set up at Sekisui House, the secured energy would be utilized for public and private sector needs. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles would also be used as sources of power during an emergency and as a means of transportation during the initial response phase.

Under the Future Disaster-Proof Factory Plan, electricity can be provided to up to 250 people for seven days. Stockpiles of food and other miscellaneous items are also available at the Tohoku factory, which is a designated evacuation area.

Disaster-resilient town

Sekisui House is also working with Shikama-cho, Miyagi Prefecture to build a disaster-resilient town.

A disaster information sharing system utilizing regional WiMAX high speed wireless communications has been developed that will allow the town to disseminate information to residents independently, even if the usual means of communication are disrupted. Disaster prevention and disaster information from the national government and Miyagi Prefecture can be consolidated at the town level and distributed in bulk to residents and public facilities.

Developments are also under way of smart housing disaster prevention technologies to mitigate and prevent disasters. Among these is the ‘Green First Hybrid’ system comprising solar PV, fuel cells and battery storage for homes that would allow occupants to live independently even during a disaster.