Visit to Plant

Disaster-hit City Runs 2.9MW Solar Plant

Power sales increased by 40% despite cable theft

2016/03/13 13:10
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Kitakami City, which is located in an inland area in the southwest of Iwate Prefecture, registered tremors of 5 upper on the Japanese seismic scale of 7 in the Great East Japan Earthquake, with its citizens suffering power loss, water failure and disruption of communications and traffic for a few days. The telecom infrastructure was disrupted by the power loss, keeping the city's disaster prevention headquarters and local shelters from sharing information with each other and leaving a serious challenge to swift disaster response.

Reflecting on such events, Kitakami City is approaching new town development through the "Kitakami City Ajisai-type Smart Community Concept Model Project." Aiming for a sustainable city, 16 areas that comprise the city will collaborate and vitalize the entire city while leveraging their characteristics. The project cost totaled about ¥1.6 billion (approx US$14 million), 500 million of which was provided by a subsidy from the national government.

Solar and rechargeable cells set up at City Hall and 16 district hubs

Solar cells with a total output of 30kW and a rechargeable battery of 300kWh as well as an electric vehicle (EV) and a quick charger were set up at Kitakami City Hall. Meanwhile, a 45kW-output solar power generation system and a 25kWh rechargeable battery were set up at Kitakami Stadium while a 20kW-output solar power generation system and a 15kWh rechargeable battery were placed on a municipal office building (Office Arcadia Kitakami). In addition, each community center in the 16 areas was equipped with a 5kW solar power generation system and a 5kWh rechargeable battery (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Facilities included in "Kitakami City Ajisai-type Smart Community Concept Model Project" (source: Kitakami City)

Those solar power generation facilities were dispersed across the respective facilities, and the generated power is used in house without using the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme.

Upon completing all the facilities, including a community energy management system (CEMS), the project went into full-fledged operation in January 2016.