Technology that Contributes to the SDGs
Electricity cannot be stored, so continual adjustments of power generation must be made to ensure a balance between supply and demand. If power generation is not balanced, the frequency of the electricity will fluctuate, potentially resulting in large-scale power outages, in the worst-case scenario. As a result, general electricity transmission and distribution utilities currently maintain frequencies within a certain range, mainly by limiting the output of power stations to match demand.
Renewable energy, which does not generate CO2 when electricity is generated, may become a key energy source in future under Japan’s energy policies. Still, solar power generation and wind power generation are affected by weather conditions such as the amount of solar radiation and strength of the wind, causing issues when adjusting the balance of grid electricity supply and demand.
On the other hand, fuel cells characteristically enable free control of the output power, and are attracting attention as a resource that can contribute to adjustment of grid electricity supply and demand in a society in which a large amount of renewable energy is introduced.
Innovation by the Daigas Group
Osaka Gas is conducting a verification project to build a virtual power plant (VPP)*1by controlling approximately 1,500 units of residential fuel cells, “ENE-FARM type S (equipment sold after April 2018),” installed at customers’ homes (the total rated output reaches around 1 MW*2) as energy resources as if they are a single power plant, so as to utilize it for effective adjustment of grid electricity supply and demand. While the aggregation coordinator*3 in this verification project is Chubu Electric Power Miraiz Co., Inc., Osaka Gas participates in the project as a resource aggregator*4.
We have installed the IoT function on our products starting at the “ENE-FARM type S*5 ,” which was released in 2016, and approximately 50,000 units*6 are currently connected to the server of Osaka Gas. We will verify that the output power of “ENE-FARM” can be controlled in accordance with the grid supply and demand situation, including the output fluctuation of renewable energy, by utilizing the know-how of remote control technology cultivated through the efforts to realize IoT applications.
- *1 Virtual power plant. It is realized by business operators called “aggregators” using, in a bundle, the adjustment power supplied by distributed power sources.
- *2 If the rated power output of “ENE-FARM” is estimated to be 700 W, the total rated power output of 1,500 units of “ENE-FARM” will be 1,050 kilowatts ≈ 1 MW.
- *3 A business operator who aggregates the electric power controlled by a resource aggregator, and trades electricity directly with general electricity transmission and distribution utilities and electricity retailers
- *4 A business operator who controls resources by directly concluding VPP service contracts with customers
- *5 A device that directly generates electricity through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. It generates electricity continuously for 24 hours according to the amount of electricity used at each house. Meanwhile, the heat generated during power generation can be used for hot water supply and storage in a tank.
- *6 As of May 31, 2020