Solar photovoltaic technology and its applications in solar energy in Japan

20-Aug-2019 Intellasia | CoinTelegraph | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Japan’s Ministry of Technology and Industry (MITI) views solar photovoltaic power as an essential part of its digital economic transformation. Japanese science fiction author Haruki Murakami concurs “Japan, as an economic power, should find another source of power besides atomic energy. It may cause a temporary economic dip, but we will be respected as a country that does not use nuclear power.”

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology which converts light into electrical current was born in the United States at Bell Labs when engineer Daryl Chapin, chemist Calvin Fuller and physicist Gerald Pearson worked together to develop the first silicon solar photovoltaic cell in 1954. The New York Times wrote that the silicon solar cell “may mark the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realisation of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilisation.”

First launched in 1974 by MITI, with METI joining in 2001, the Sunshine Project was a long-term comprehensive plan for the research and development of new solar energy technologies to resolve Japan’s energy and climate change problems. The programme was heavily funded by the government because PV technology emits no CO2 while also being highly reliable and modular, and with lower construction and operational costs.

Starting in the 1980s, Japanese manufacturers began incorporating solar PV cells into electronic applications in various areas. In the late 1990s, Japanese government programmes began promoting solar houses. In 2009, Tsutomu Miyasaka and his colleagues in Japan reported on perovskite compounds being light absorbers for solar energy applications, which outperform the efficiency of more established PV technologies and can be printed or woven into fabric. As a result, Japan emerged as the world’s third-largest solar energy power producer, with 45 percent of PV cells in the world being manufactured in Japan.

With the rise of Bitcoin and in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011, the government encouraged the proliferation of decentralised solar energy by encouraging the production of more energy-efficient buildings, cars that combine solar panels with some form of energy storage as well as other devices. This compelled the solar energy sector to begin using blockchain technology. Professor Umit Cali of the University of North Carolina provided an exclusive comment, saying:

“In the solar energy sector, decentralised blockchain technology is used in person-to-person (P2P) energy trading, labeling, energy provenance and certification, smart metering and billing, electric vehicle charging and payments, and wholesale power trading and settlements.”

Reports published by Fitch Solutions Macro Research and Globadata conclude that over the next decade, decentralised solar technology may replace PV solar farms as the main growth-driver in Japan. Already, a blockchain-enabled solar energy-trading pilot project is set to link 100 solar rooftops of smart, zero-energy homes in the country, while another pilot project will administer an energy-trading marketplace using blockchain to connect a number of Japanese power production facilities with homes, offices, factories, batteries and electric vehicles.

Toyota Motor Corp. which began testing high-efficiency solar cells for electric cars has joined forces with the University of Tokyo and online renewable energy retailer Trende to test peer-to-peer vehicle-to-grid electricity trading using blockchain technology, which allows for electric vehicles to communicate with the power grid to buy and sell electricity to smooth out peak and low demand times.

Japan’s Marubeni Corp. has recently backed a blockchain-based power-purchasing platform called WePower that makes it easy for small- and medium-sized businesses to buy power from solar project developers, offering standardised, digital power purchase agreements to help underwrite new projects.

Japan is a predominantly mountainous land with varied weather conditions, and the area that a PV solar farm occupies is an important consideration, as it determines the yield. Accordingly, Japan has been creative in developing new PV solar energy generation stations at home and abroad in seas, lakes, deserts and space.

Japan built the world’s first and largest floating solar plants. Its lakes and reservoirs are now home to 73 of the world’s 100-largest floating solar plants, which is up to 16 percent more efficient than land-based solar systems.

In cooperation with the National University of Mongolia, Japan is also participating in the project “Energy from the Desert,” with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) providing financial support covering up to half of the initial investment costs. Marubeni Corp. built the world’s largest PV farm, the Noor Abu Dhabi photovoltaic power project, in the Sweihan Desert of the United Arab Emirates, which recently began producing solar energy at $0.024 per kilowatt hour.

The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) began its SPS programme in 2009, with the goal to set up a one gigawatt solar farm in space that can transmit energy back to Earth by 2030. In 2015, Japan came closer to harvesting solar energy from space when it transmitted condensed solar power converted to microwaves to a receiving antenna, which converted only 5 percent-10 percent of the power required to power three PCs.

For space solar power generation to become commercially viable, 50 percent of the solar power generated in space needs to be transmitted to Earth. JAXA is also designing kite-like orbiters that will travel in low-earth orbit above the equator, with a transmitting antenna on the Earthward face and solar collectors on spaceward face in order to transmit solar energy to Earth. In 2010, JAXA has already successfully launched Ikaros, a solar space kite, that sailed through deep space and was propelled by solar energy. Small satellites are ideal candidates for this type of solar propulsion.


Category: Japan

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