Japan may still be recovering from earthquake-related woes, but that's not stopping Panasonic and eight partner companies from pushing ahead with their own rebuilding effort that could reshape the way future cities and towns are built. Part demonstration initiative and part reclamation project, Panasonic and friends are turning the footprint of one of the company's former factory sites into a 47-acre, 1,000-home "smart town" with energy- and eco-conscious considerations leading the development.
But the idea here isn't to create a town stripped to the bare minimum energy usage. Rather, by building the "Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town"--Fujisawa City in Kanagawa Prefecture being the larger urban area here--with next-gen power-generating and power-saving infrastructure from the ground up, the companies plan to show just how green a town can be when various technologies are stacked together and work in unison.
As such, Fujisawa SST won't necessarily be home to never-before-seen, cutting-edge technologies, but to a variety of common green tech staples that, despite their availability, are expensive to retrofit into older buildings and towns.
For instance, every roof structure will be embedded with modern solar panel technology that both powers the house and banks unused energy in a home-based storage battery. Transportation infrastructure will be designed with electric vehicles in mind. Networked sensors all over town will control things like public lighting, ensuring wattage doesn't go to waste via a local smart grid.
Basically, Fujisawa SST is envisioned as a bottom-up approach to energy efficiency--a green village built from scratch with modern green technologies rather than less-efficient older tech. Panasonic wants to use it as a template for other larger communities in Japan and elsewhere. If all goes as planned, Fujisawa SST will start receiving residents in March of 2014 and finish filling up its houses by 2018.
sweet. Panisoic currently holds the worlds record for the best battery life (with general use batteries AA, AAA, etc).
For the most part Japanese are VERY energy conscious people. MUCH more than Americans. At work they do not turn the heat or air on until it reaches a certain temp (much hotter and colder than most westerners would like). They have a HUGE line of ECO tires here not even offered in the USA. The examples are endless. You find many a Japanese person sitting in their hot houses and apts in summer rather than have the AC on. To be honest I can't stand working here sometimes becuase of that. I will sit in the office with a jacket and gloves and a scarf on it is so cold in the early winter months. It is very rude to do so, but I am "gaijin" so I dont care.
I say for the most part because they have lots of GHOST energy waste. Most homes and business have super toilets now. Toilets with built in ### washer and heated toilet seats that stay plugged in year round. I read that they increased all power usage in Japan by 20%! just in the decade or two thay they went from non-existent to standered bathroom equipment.
(off topic) GERMANY is dumb for wanting to shut down their nuke plants and not build new ones. Fukuishima was mismanged from the get go. most nuke stations aren't. and guess where Germany is getting their power from AFTER they shut down their reactors. COAL plants in germeny (yeah ever heard of black lung and a little something called cancer and green house gases)and Nuke power from France. Idiots!!!
I hope it is a success and spreads.
inaka_rob, that's why Germany is investing more in renewables. They can't build any more nuclear plants because nuclear is too expensive. You're forgetting that radiation also causes cancer. I can't believe you think that after Fukushima, nuclear is still a good idea.
Great plan. See also this video www.wolfram-publications.blogspot.com/2011/05/panasonic-announces-sustainable-smart.html
Inaka_rob. I have been back a few yrs now.
I did wear weight lifting gloves in the office in the winter. I told them they were my Pokémon gloves and it initially gave them something to talk about. I don’t think gaijin can ever fit in because of our different background/experience, but you used it to your benefit.
In the winter we heated the living room/dining/kitchen area of our rental (only during the day) with a kerosene heater. We had split type units in other rooms, but the one in the living/dining/kitchen area couldn’t handle it and was expensive to run. House smelled of kerosene, but I learned quickly how to vent and not let all the heat escape. Never had an issue with the family being overcome by the fumes. Every few hours I would take the fuel tank outside and fill with kerosene (no fun). Ordered some electric blankets to keep warm at night and avoid the cost of the split type units in the bedrooms.
We are lucky to have relatively affordable heating/cooling here in the states. Hope we maintain our infrastructure.
I am sure their "Sustainable Smart town" will be one of, if not, the best examples of how to make one.
Most things that are built decades ago and never touched again fail eventually. In this case, it took a record breaking earthquake AND tsunami to damage the plant. Would your house, let alone anything else you own or use daily, survive any of that? You haven't moved into a concrete bunker have you? Oh you have? My bad.
I'll be curious to see a diagram of all the tech involved in this as they build it.
It seems a single housing tower with green energy and solar power would be better
Except that record breaking earthquake "AND" tsunami hardly damaged any fossil-fuel power plants, wind mills, or pretty much any other power stations. So, it turns out that nuclear plants are extremely fragile compared to the other power sources. You act like nuclear plants should get a gold star because not only it did not withstand natural disasters, but it also managed to have 3 hydrogen explosions and subsequent meltdowns and massive releases of radiation which are causing the nation a whole mess of problems. That's a hell of an erroneous conclusion or an incredibly deceptive spin.
I'm curious as well to see all the technology intended to be used here. How far are they going to go with this? After reading about advances in hydroponics, it'd be amazing to at least see a good test bed for some locally grown food for the community. How will waste water be handled? Plenty of extremely low to no water solutions for human waste. I remember some article about a type of street surface that would filter water returning to the ground. With solar power still being kind of off in terms of material versus benefit, are they also going to use windmills or possibly small hydroelectric?
Isn't this kind of a day dream to alot of people? Wouldn't it be amazing to see what we can do as a species now a days when we have vastly improved technology. But also have the knowledge that we do fulfill a role on this world we need to perserve the ecosystem, and what would it look like for even a suburban community to take advantage of all the technology offered right now? Will be very exciting to see.
@Gorash- To be fair, the tsunami knocked out several refineries, setting them on fire or causing explosions. It (or the associated earthquake) also caused several gas and coal fired power plants to shut down. You just didn't hear about those because they were overshadowed by the issues at Fukushima. And for that matter, the major problems at the Fukushima nuclear plant were caused by the failure of the diesel generators, not the nuclear reactors themselves. The reactors shut down as they should have, but eventually suffered damaged due to a lack of cooling because the diesel generators could not power the cooling pumps.
None of this is to say that Fukushima was not a disaster, or that the plant was not poorly managed. I'm just trying to state that it is naive to think that conventional power plants are somehow more immune to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and 46' tsunami. They don't get the same media coverage, and they don't have the same long-term effect on the surrounding area, but they are certainly not invincible.
1 or 2 fossil-fuel power plants shut down due to the earthquake, but they could be back up and running in a matter of days or weeks (as long as they have the fuel), while nuclear plants have to be shut down for YEARS. And of course, zero wind mills had any problems. Currently, only 19 out of 54 nuclear nuclear plants in Japan are operating due to the earthquake, and they'd have to be shut down for years before they can come back up and running.
Saying that it was the tsunami that damaged the diesel generators is what TEPCO is claiming, but there are a few analysis that say that the earthquake has damaged the plumbings and that made them lose the coolant and cause "LOCA" or loss of coolant accident.
Saying that the Fukushima has overshadowed the other accidents is just a poor excuse and not even true. The reason that you don't hear about it in the news is because it didn't cause such a huge accident (if at all).
We can end our total dependence on oil if we use less alternate fuels not more. If we turn the dials on our alternate fuels, just right, we can reduce the amount of each to bridge the gaps between each other while at the same time reducing the over all price. We use hybrid car batteries to reach far fewer alternate fueling stations. Our 2,000 mile coast to coast trip would only need 80 alternate fueling stations along it. Only 500 alternate fueling stations would be needed to replace our current 10,000 gas stations because of the added distance batteries provide. At five to seven percent new vehicles in the system every year it could take only ten to fifteen years to replace oil for your commute, and only about half that to bust down the price of oil.
First we turn most of the problem into a mobile billing problem. Local electrical home networking is still around, but because of band width never became popular, and for the same reason broadband by electrical power lines never did either. If we take and use these failed networking attempts we can make every plug a mobile billing electric fueling station for your hybrid battery. We are going to update our power metering system anyway so the cost is integrated. A hybrid battery adds $2,000 dollars to the sale price of your hybrid vehicle, but pays for its self in fuel economy. Adding more corrosive resistant tubing to your engine for around $100 dollars at manufacture will allow it to handle alternate fuels like E85 or natural gas, and the battery solves the infrastructure problem for those alternate fuels.
Seventy percent of all commutes are less then 30 miles away. Plugging in at home and at work will allow off the shelf plug in electric hybrid vehicles to power 95% of all commutes without any fuel at all. That will transfer over 60% of gasoline use to be powered by local electric power usually by domestic coal, and double the use of existing oil reserves in the process. Updating the power meters to create a smart power billing smart grid and smart battery network to store solar in car batteries makes sense. From just a civil defense stand point, if the Middle East blew its self up you could plug your hybrid vehicle in at work for an emergency.
@gorash: You've got a funny way of looking at things. Coal-fired power plants in Japan's NE region absolutely copped damage during the earthquake and tsunami, so much so that Japan's coal consumption is expected to drop by nearly 10% this year:
Like I said, some of them did shut down due to the earthquake, but they are not so badly damaged that they could not ever come back online (they can be back up and running rather quickly) nor did they explode and had meltdowns like at the Fukushima nuclear plants.
So Japan's coal is expected to drop by 10%, while 60% of their nuclear reactors are shut down due to the earthquake, 3 of them exploded and had meltdowns. Give me a break. That does not sound like coal plants "absolutely copped damage", while nuclear plants sound like they did. And while we're at it, let's talk about renewables since I'm no real fan of either of those power sources. Zero wind mills shut down due to the earthquake, and they are supplying power for the lost capacity right now :).
Yeah, let's talk about renewables.
Tidal and wave generators are perhaps even more vulnerable to tsunamis than nuclear power plants. The windfarms survived this earthquake, but don't have such a good history of resilience to the typhoons that hit Japan every year.
We don't get typhoons in the Scotland but every windfarm in the country shut down last week when we had some moderately high winds. It's not exactly the most reliable source of power, and it tends to be at its least reliable in bad weather when demand is at its highest.
Coal plants have their own issues and have been known to explode even without the assistance of an earthquake (the Oak Creek Plant for example). Moreover, there are regular explosions killing hundreds mining the fuel for the things.
Nice to see a company repurposing, I do wonder if it would be more efficient to put a few large luxury type condo/apt buildings and make them totally sustainable for less of a footprint. Either way this give me hope that similar things will spring up in the future.