Energy Innovation is at the Heart of Tackling Climate Change
On 14 February 2017, DIT organised an energy innovation seminar, which was held at the British Embassy in Tokyo.
New British ambassador to Japan Paul Madden opened the seminar with remarks on the UK’s experience in moving from a regulated to a liberalised energy market in the 1990s.
The UK’s extensive experience in this sector can help Japan to make the very same transition in a smoother way, having learned from the mistakes and successes of the UK model.
Edmund Hosker, Director of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), spoke at length on changes in UK energy policy over the course of the past two decades and emphasised the value of the experience UK companies can bring to Japan.
In the case of the UK, the transition occurred in two stages with 12 regional electricity suppliers being privatised, the national grid becoming an independent company, and gas market liberalisation as well as electricity market liberalisation.
Hosker reiterated the UK Government’s stance on the Climate Change Act, reminding attendees that in 2008 the UK was the first country to introduce a legally binding framework to tackle climate change.
The government has set the UK on track to build a low-carbon future, and while de-carbonisation is important ensuring energy security through a diverse energy mix is essential.
The UK supports integrated gas and electricity markets in the EU and champions open markets internationally.
In addition, the government has started a smart meter rollout in UK homes, with every household and small business is expected to have one installed by 2020. These electronic devices lead to a reduction in consumption of 3% in gas and electricity on average.
“Now is a time of dramatic change in the energy industry,” said Hosker, “and the UK seeks to be at the forefront of this change.”
Energy aside, the government is pledging GBP 600 million to support the transition to low emission vehicles.
“We hope UK and Japanese companies can work together to mutual benefit,# added Hosker.
UK Showcasing Innovative Energy Solutions in Japan
The four companies participating in the seminar also showcased at the comprehensive exhibitions in the energy industry in Japan: Energy and Environment Exhibition (ENEX), Smart Energy Japan and Energy and Energy Supply Showcase 2017.
Executive Chairman of Bristol BlueGreen, Anthony Parker, presented the company’s technology to key players in the energy industry in Japan.
Bristol BlueGreen uses patented anti-phase technology, which is used to produce a range of smart voltage management devices for commercial and residential settings.
The goal is to achieve savings through smart voltage management, and the technology allows dynamic regulation of voltage at a set point.
Voltage usually fluctuates at any given time, and the system provides real time data, and alerts users when supply or consumption are no longer within the normal range. Net electricity cost savings of between 6 and 12% are typical.
Due to the voltage in Japan being lower than in other countries, savings would be on the lower end of the scale, but eliminating voltage imbalance also improves the life of motors and devices and reduces carbon output.
BlueGreen, whose business is focused on research and development rather than manufacturing, is looking for a development partner in Japan, and commercial partners for its existing business globally.
Delta Energy & Environment
Delta-ee is a research and consulting company that works with clients, advising them on the best ways to navigate the transformation of the energy system to a more customer-centric and service-orientated future.
Simplified, what Delta-ee does is help clients transform from old systems to new systems.
They have worked with top Japanese companies such as Honda, NEC and Sharp, and provide consultancy-based packages as well as delivering services.
Following energy market deregulation in Japan, Delta-ee can provide deep knowledge and insights to Japanese companies, helping them understand and identify opportunities in global competitive markets, as well as supporting companies in developing international strategies and growing in global markets.
The small but highly specialised team excels in helping Japanese companies respond to the challenges and opportunities found in market liberalisation, explained Leon Gielen, who handles Principal Business Development for Europe and Asia.
Highview Power Storage
Highview are leading designers and developers of Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) systems. LAES is a method of storing energy using liquid air as the storage medium.
Matthew Barnett, Director of Business Development, took centre stage to explain Highview’s business.
The privately owned business consists of a small but skilled team of 22 people. Having been formed 10 years ago, the company has direct experience of the liberalisation and privatisation of the energy market in the UK.
Barnett believes that there is a place for energy storage in Japan, even though it appears quite low on the Japanese government’s list of priorities in the sector at this time.
The technology is easily implemented, as it is simple and has been around for 120 years. The goal is now to leverage the supply chain in Japan. Highview have already formed strategic partnerships in Japan, but are now seeking a host site in Japan.
Benefits of using liquid air storage include grid stability and resiliency. In addition it is a cost-effective way to store energy.
Highview’s latest project is a pilot plant in Manchester, England. It is the world’s first grid scale liquid air storage system.
Barnett was keen to express the company’s interest in finding project partners and exploring future partnerships with Japanese firms.
Managing Director of ITM Motive, Dr John Newton, presented ITM Power’s technology.
The company manufactures integrated hydrogen energy solutions, focusing on clean fuel and energy storage.
Using rapid response electrolysis technology, intermittent green renewable resources such as wind and solar power can be converted to hydrogen and stored when supply exceeds demand.
In the UK, green renewable energy is wasted when there is no demand from customers, and technology such as that provided by ITM can minimise that.
Two key markets for this technology are the production of clean transport fuel for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles and Power-to-Gas.
The UK government and the EU are supporting new technologies around electric vehicles.
Under the HyFIVE project banner, ITM has opened two hydrogen filling stations in London, and these are being used by hydrogen fuel taxis serving Heathrow.
Toyota has a research and development centre in the area and has signed a fuelling contract with ITM, who have a long relationship with Toyota Mirai.
Other uses for the technology include using hydrogen to power heat generation, as is being done on the Orkney Islands.
ITM provide the whole system as an integrated package.
Around power-to-gas applications, hydrogen allows the separating of power and energy.
Hydrogen can be stored easily in the gas grid, unlike electricity, which is a major advantage. The only limitation with this is arounf current hydrogen limits for gas grid injection due to rules and regulations around the composition.
Germany is a good case study as it is a big market for hydrogen, and Japan can observe ITM’s expertise in that market.
As Dr Newton explained, there is no silver bullet solution for energy storage but, ITM effectively provides solutions in this sector.
Article and photo by Vanessa Holden, February 2017.