Japanese market for energy storage systems predicted to grow rapidly

By Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

The Japanese market for energy storage systems (ESSes) will rapidly grow to 1,195,708kWh in 2017 and 3,306,600kWh in 2020, driven by residential products, according to the results of a survey by the Yano Research Institute Ltd.

The scale of the market is expected to be 581,491kWh (the total capacity of ESSes shipped by manufacturers) in 2015, which is an increase of 94.1% on a year-over-year basis. Of the total capacity, residential products account for more than 50% and have been driving the market.

Manufacturers of such residential products are offering a solar power generation system and ESS as a set. Also, they are making proposals for existing users of solar power generation systems in view of the expiration of 10-year surplus electricity purchase contracts based on the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme, which is scheduled in 2019 or later.

Depending on the status of the subsidy of the Japanese government, the market growth will slow down in 2016. However, Yano Research Institute considers that the growth will pick up again because of the above-mentioned strategies.

Other than residential products, the increase in the demand for products for power grids and corporate and business use will contribute to the market growth due to the increase in renewable energy and changes in the power market, and the market will grow to 1,195,708kWh in 2017, the company predicted.

According to Yano Research, the Japanese market for ESSes will be 3,306,600kWh in 2020, which is about three times larger than the expected market scale in 2017 (an increase of 176.5%). In regard to installation places and applications, residential products will continue to account for a large ratio, and the ratio will be 66.0% in 2020.

Other than residential products, products for power grids and products for corporate and business use will account for 16.9% and 14.5%, respectively, according to the company.

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Good to read about this! The technologies sound like they will be beneficial for Japanese businesses, consumers and the environment.

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What about self-installation: is this feasible, or must we go through "approved suppliers" to get the FIT?

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So long overdue in a country with so many residential solar panel users. Most of that solar energy collected during the day while most are at work is wasted in not fed back into the grid and if one is able to store some of that energy then it's a win-win when the power goes out as well. Think of it as a HUGE home UPS. This is a HUGE market for Japan Inc. to get into first at home and then with exports.

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@KnowBetterOCT. 19, 2015 - 04:38PM JST So long overdue in a country with so many residential solar panel users. Most of that solar energy collected during the day while most are at work is wasted in not fed back into the grid and if one is able to store some of that energy then it's a win-win when the power goes out as well. Think of it as a HUGE home UPS. This is a HUGE market for Japan Inc. to get into first at home and then with exports.


Some business and residence have own solar panels and a majority subscribe electricity from the utility company that has own solar panel farm. Business usually have own back up plant There are solar power batteries on sale. We use as fjash light.

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I am actually a potential customer and all I can say is that the math STILL does not work. I have seen proposals from 4 different vendors, and they just are not there yet.

First of all, KnowBetter above is wrong to say that most energy is not fed into the grid. In actual fact ALL of the electricity generated under a FIT contract MUST be accepted by the utility at the agreed upon price for the duration of the contract. We all like to look at utilities in Japan as being opposed to renewable energy, but they buy and operate almost 100% of it, and most utilities had FITs even before 2012.

I could go through all of the math with this, and I have built and tweaked several models that include all the financing and operations for use of these home systems, but suffice it to say that the DIFFERENCE in price between what a utility pays for solar panel generated electricity and what a customer pays for utility generated electricity is what determines the viability of storage with a solar system. Balanced against that benefit is the cost of the battery, the life of the battery, finance costs, installation, etc. People get it into their head that being free and groovy is better than just trusting the utility to do its job. It isn't really. You could get your power from pedaling a bicycle all day, but you don't . Why is that?

Anyway, I know what my number is when the utility finishes the FIT contract I have. I am pretty sure the utility will continue to offer me more money for my electricity "than it is worth," so I might never buy a battery. I am waiting for the utility to screw me or for the battery deal of a lifetime. Or both.

And just to give everyone some food for thought, just imagine you had solar panels and a battery right now. Imagine you have a FIT contract for 35 yen. How would you use the battery to save money? How would you use it to use the least amount of grid power? Which of those strategies is better for the environment? Are your rational actions likely to help or hurt the utility's interests? The answers to those questions are very likely to surprise you.

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Because speed wrote so well that I am going to write about Nevada where utility company only use solar energy for us subscribers, though Calif will be only solar energy power state very soon. Unlike CA, NV is a small state that only solar energy is distributed to home. Very hot here that air cond is needed all day long.

Advantage Sunshine is free, So Utility company is too profittable that the pay check for its chairman is top among casino tycoons, our utility bill is very low even keeping air cond day and night.

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Toshiko mentions that she can choose on her utility bill to use only solar energy. That is something that is coming to Japan soon: deregulation.

At various places in Japan, people will soon be able to choose to have their electricity come from, say, a company that uses "only renewables" or "no coal" or "gas only" or various gimmicks. They might pay more, or pay more at certain times and less at others. It is hard to know what this is going to do for the storage market, but it seems likely that people will be less inclined to leave the grid and more inclined to remain connected. It might also mean that you could contract with a company to get cheap power at night to charge your battery, and draw down the power from your battery during the day.

Deregulation might also make it difficult for rural areas in Japan to get cheap stable electricity. Fairbanks, Alaska, I think it is, has a huge battery complex just to make sure that they can keep the lights on no matter what. There are probably areas in Tohoku and Hokkaido especially for which community batteries would be cheaper than hundreds of kilometers of copper running through a forest. There are various technological tricks that utilities can use to reduce their costs, provided that storage is cheap enough. This will be hugely important because, I predict, rural prices of electricity will spike under deregulation if it is not done right.

All of that remains to be seen, but if the price is right, battery storage can have a lot of applications for consumers beyond simply "getting off the grid," which I happen to think is a pretty dumb idea. By any standard, electrical utilities are some of the most reliable, efficient, and useful institutions human society has.

In Toshiko's case, she has a huge battery... the Hoover Dam. It can provide a base amount of electricity all day, and all through the night. Solar power can provide enough power during the day for air conditioning for everyone with not too much trouble. On less sunny days, less power is needed and less power is supplied. Solar is a no-brainer for NV and Arizona and Southern California. And actually in Japan too: it gets about 15% less sun, but its electricity is 2-3 times more expensive.

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This is refreshing to read, especially given the dire need for Japan (and other countries for that matter) to reduce their reliance on (usually imported) fossil fuels. I and other students at my university are trying to get our board of trustees to divest from fossil fuels and I hope that Japan can do so on a national level!

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Only one utility company in NV, Dam is used to supply water to lakes etc. ::Casinos nave backip plant beside subscripted using/ in case power down. No chance to go bsck to out of darted hydro power to lose huge profit gSolae bstteru, you csn recharge. if you forget to tutn off. puy oy i[dofr doun and plaxe under waning or out.

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Yes. Most states in the US have only one utility. Some utilities handle whole regions. California has several utilities. The program you mention is one where utilities have users subscribe to support renewables by having them "vote" and sometimes "pay" to show that they want to use "green power." The truth is that all the power gets mixed together, but based on the ratios showing user preferences, they invest in different generation modes.

The Hoover Dam was created to produce large amounts of electricity. YouTube has several documentaries on its construction and operations. Lake Mead is nice and everything, but it was not the motivation for the dam.

Most large installations, buildings... hospitals, casinos, etc. have emergency generators. That is true even in Japan. The problem arises whereby, generally, smaller generators are less efficient, dirtier, and more expensive than just relying on the utility. So you can't use them all the time, even if you have solar power during the day. Batteries might replace those, but batteries are even more expensive.

Your last sentence is garbled, Toshiko, but I think you are talking about some problems with batteries. You generally have to manage when you charge them and when to use them. And you can't use them until you charge them. That seems like a trivial problem, but it isn't. If you have solar panels on your house, you will generate more or less electricity, or none at all. You will either use more or less power than you generate. Your battery will be either charged or not charged at any particular time of day. Those simple facts imply 3x2x2=12 different conditions, each requiring a different choice of whether to charge a battery, or use solar power, use battery power, or use grid power. That is a lot of switching, prediction, and... math. The humorous aspect for me is that if you choose incorrectly, you lose money. The brutal irony is that solar users have much more complicated choices than non-solar users. Few home battery systems are programmable, as far as I know.

People are going to keep finding out that having access to technology is not going to give them any magical ability to solve problems. If the technology cannot be applied correctly, it can make things worse.

Alex, I wonder. Rather than divesting from fossil fuel producers, why not get your university to stop consuming fossil fuels instead? It might cost a little more, but it would show more commitment to the ideal. Stanford, in the last couple of years, has eliminated all consumption except natural gas, I think, and has filled its parking areas with solar panels. Most Japanese universities would be better off investing their endowments in better physical plant rather than divesting.

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I have about 40 solar batteries that just keep pligge in electrical outleti When I norice some off light, plug off and pig outdoorl cheaper than battweis. About Hoover Dam construction diggomg to connect Colorado River usinf old old gadget, nothing to do with batteries I have collection of Dam histories books like residents here.

Here, Casinos, hospitals, etc hse own backup solar enetgy plants. Oils and gasolin are for cars;

Mitsubishi and Sanyo in Calif make advanced solar panel and market all over in USA.

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Toshiko, I think you are taking me too literally on the Hoover Dam, but people should realize that hydro power can be increased and decreased pretty easily, and it can be used similarly to a battery or a baseload. It also "stores" power which can be measured and which is renewable in the long run. Anyway, people should go visit the dam. It has nice visitor areas.

You have 40 solar batteries? Those are 12 V deep cycle or something? I can't imagine you have 40 of those just for lighting.

"Backup solar energy plants." I wonder what those are.

For emergencies, diesel backup is very common for large facilities. They are not as efficient as grid electricity, but the fuel is widely available, and they work when the sun is not shining. Large backup batteries are extremely expensive, so large facilities cannot usually afford them, and cannot rely on them anyway. Faced with buying one battery and one diesel generator, most places just opt for two generators. This is a common problem. Batteries are not competing with solar. Batteries are competing with small generators and gas turbine generators. And up to now, they have generally been losing.

If some casinos are choosing solar plus battery backup, I really doubt they use their backup at all. They can probably save a lot of money using the solar power during the day, but power is cheaper at night than it would be to take expensive power during the day and put it in a battery to use at night. Add in the cost of the battery and they will be losing money AND will require a larger solar system than normal. This is an example of the counter-intuitive nature of battery economics. I repeat: using expensive battery resources to take expensive daytime solar generated power to replace cheap power during night time is generally a money loser. People have this strange desire to do just that, but they are literally throwing their money away.

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