The Japanese market for building energy efficiency technologies has been strong for decades, thanks in large part to the 1979 Act Concerning the Rational Use of Energy, the foundation of Japan’s stringent building energy codes. In the 2 years since the Fukushima earthquake and the ensuing energy crisis – which has caused a 17% increase in the price of energy for non-residential customers of TEPCO, the monopoly utility that serves the greater Tokyo region – demand for energy efficiency technologies in Japan has grown significantly.
In particular, demand for building energy management systems (BEMSs) has grown as much as 30% to 40% year-on-year over the last few years, according to discussions I’ve had with market participants and key industry players in Japan. Although the concept of BEMSs is mature in Japan, given that it is a requirement of the Act Concerning the Rational Use of Energy, the concurrent timing of the energy crisis and the market availability of software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based BEMS software has led to a surge in its adoption. (It should be noted that the concept of BEMSs in Japan overlaps significantly with the concept of BEMSs in Europe and North America, though BEMSs in Japan often include additional technologies such as building-to-grid connections, smart meter technology, and others that are often considered part of the smart grid in other regions.)
At the recent World Smart Energy Week at the Big Sight in Tokyo, I was focused on learning more about the adoption of technologies such as building energy management systems (BEMSs), direct digital controls (DDCs), demand response (DR), and other intelligent building products in Japan within the 3rd Eco House & Eco Building Expo.
I attended several sessions of the event’s Smart Grid Technical Conference, where representatives from organizations such as Itron, NEDO, and Toyota discussed smart building technology in the context of the increased intelligence of the utility grid. In particular, the increased growth of PV and wind in Japan will continue to drive the country’s emerging DR market, which will expand further through the adoption of smart building technology. As Taichiro Kawahara of Hitachi put it, “Demand-side energy management in Japan must be promoted through demand-side management and demand response.”
The conference not only explored the application of these technologies in Japan, but also compared and contrasted similar successes and challenges with smart grid integration experienced in Europe and North America. This perspective is critical for ensuring that the adoption of smart grid technology in Japan unfolds as smoothly as possible and for providing Japanese technology developers with important insights into the market landscape in other regions into which many Japanese companies are looking to expand. This sort of international forum is critical for spreading market-leading technology – and ensuring that the industry doesn’t make the same mistakes twice.
Tags: Building Energy Management, Building Systems, Conferences & Events, Demand Response, Energy Management, Policy & Regulation, Smart Buildings Practice
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