Week in Smart Metering - Despatches From Japan

Japan's plans to create a more stable and resilient power grid offers much to learn from, writes metering.com's Rose Bundock.
Published: Wed 02 Mar 2016

About 80,000 people are expected to pass through the conference and exhibition halls at World Smart Energy Week in Tokyo, Japan to buy, fact find and learn about smart energy technology and policy Japan-style.

The event serves the domestic rather than regional market. And there is much to learn from the way Japan intends to create a more stable and resilient power grid.

Energy storage is the new 'sexy' (sorry, smart meters), a UK utility executive commented. But how it will be applied and what effect this will have on a distributed energy grid is yet to be determined.

One European company that is putting a stake in the ground is Saft, which has moved away from its long-standing distributor to open its own subsidiary in Japan. I caught up with general manager Philippe Ulrich.

Meanwhile, new entrants to the electricity and gas retail market are emerging from many unexpected corners. Today, I've heard how Japanese e-commerce, travel and e-currency company Rakuten is partnering with independent power producer Marubeni to offer electricity customers a loyalty scheme. Consumers can accrue Rakuten points that can be redeemed for consumer goods or travel.

While Ricoh, better known for its photocopiers and printers, has entered the electricity supply fray in a bid to work with large power producers to cut energy consumption as part of a revenue sharing model.

So the field is wide open and the clock is counting down to total liberalisation by 2020. When I asked a energy management IT provider, if the country will meet the deadline, the reply was "Of course, we can. We must."

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