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Panasonic's Sustainable Solar Utopia in Japan

By Kristy Hoare on in International Solar

Panasonic's Sustainable Solar Utopia in Japan

Recently, under the shadow of Mt. Fuji, Japanese Electronics giant Panasonic inaugurated its 60 billion yen smart township in Fujisawa, Japan. Panasonic's environmentally friendly utopia, The Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (SST), represents a 100-year study and business venture on property development through green methods, with hopes of expanding regionally.

Fujisawa SST Management Co. president Tomohiko Miyahara said at the grand opening presentation of the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town that the success of Panasonic's flagship town would enable the corporation to push its sustainable strategy in a greater way. "Panasonic is not just building a town, but a community," Miyahara announced at a press conference.

The town's goals include a 70% cut to CO2 emissions compared to 1990 levels, with hopes of zero emissions in the future; reducing water use by 30% compared to 2006; and focusing on renewable energy usage to power the town, including solar power as a main form of energy.

Designed to accommodate 3,000 people when it's completed in 2018, the Fujisawa town is already home to more than 100 households. The houses are packed with Panasonic appliances and gadgets, and feature a plethora of wall-mounted control panels and screens for energy management, security and lighting controls. Green electrical sockets link to power outlets that can be used even during blackouts. Another main goal of the town is to be able to provide for its own energy needs for up to three days in times of disaster, a major concern in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country in March 2011.

There are household fuel cells, lithium-ion household battery units to store the energy generated by solar panels, tablets with software that tracks electricity production and sales to the grid operator, smartphone-controlled air conditioners and all-LED lighting. Outside, the smart streetlights, also LEDs, are equipped with sensors that can detect when people or vehicles approach so the lights are only fully on when needed.

"This town is going to exist for 100 years as a sustainable town," Masahiro Ido, director of Panasonic's Business Solution Division, told attendees.

Sign me up please! I'd love to visit Japan to see the sustainable town that one-day might be mainstream. But what might this mean for New Zealand? I'd like to see us partner with Panasonic one day for a completely green town of our own. The future is looking bright! 

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