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METI to Launch a Study Group on Ideal Approaches to New Electricity Platforms that Take Advantage of Next-Generation Technologies

October 9, 2018

Aiming to enrich discussions concerning expected impacts of next-generation technologies on electricity networks and the potential of such networks, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) decided to launch a Study Group on Ideal Approaches to New Electricity Platforms that Take Advantage of Next-Generation Technologies.

1. Purpose of the study group

Challenges that electricity networks face have grown increasingly diverse and complex, causing a stagnation in earnings due to sluggishness in demand for power grids, introduction of full-fledged measures for highly aged facilities for such grids, enhancement of the resilience of electricity systems, including responses to large-scale disasters, and efforts for making renewable energy a major power source.

Due to this trend, Japan needs to shift the existing electricity networks to new ones to increase the sophistication of the “3E”: energy security, environment and economic efficiency, while taking advantage of the existing power grids to the maximum extent possible, (e.g., in accordance with specification of the Japanese Connect and Manage scheme).

In some particular fields relevant to electricity networks, Japan has seen advancement of new technologies and signs of emerging new businesses. Shifting to new electricity networks in such fields are expected to contribute to “3 E” as below:

  1. Energy security: Introducing IoT into power grids and taking advantage of data to improve the control of energy supply and demand;
  2. Environment: Low carbonization through new distributed resources, e.g., EVs and storage batteries; and
  3. Economic efficiency: Supply of diverse and inexpensive electricity by new businesses (e.g., ERAB* and peer-to-peer (P2P) electricity trading between individuals).

These developments take significant financial resources, time and effort, all of which are expended despite the risks involved in such investments. Due to these risks, necessary actions and potential setbacks involving new electricity networks should be examined and organized as soon as possible from mid-to-long term perspectives with an eye on the year 2030 and onward.

To this end, METI decided to launch a Study Group on Ideal Approaches to New Electricity Platforms that Take Advantage of Next-Generation Technologies. The study group will aim to: focus on necessary actions and potential setbacks in realizing such networks; and improve the depth and quality of these discussions by also bringing together experts in fields other than electricity and holding interviews with stakeholders in such fields in order to gain the newest information concerning related technologies and businesses.

*The term “ERAB” refers to a business framework in which businesses make use of virtual power plants (VPP) and the DR program, and provide a variety of services related to: electricity adjustments, avoidance of supply-demand imbalances, electricity-rate cuts, avoidance of output controls and other measures to their customers, which include electricity transmission/distribution businesses, electricity retailers/consumers, and renewable-energy utilities.

2. Outline of the first meeting of the study group

Date: October 15 (Mon.), 2018; from 10:30 to 12:30
Venue: Shared Meeting Rooms 227 and 231, second floor, METI Annex
Agendas:
(1) Proceedings of the study group
(2) Ideal approaches to new electricity platforms that take advantage of next-generation technologies

The meetings of the study group will be open to the public and the details of the meetings will be broadcast on the internet.

The distributed materials and a summary of the minutes of the meetings will be released on the METI and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) websites.

Division in Charge

Electricity Industry and Market Office & Electricity Infrastructure Division, Electricity and Gas Industry Department, ANRE