At the heart of Japan’s green transition
With the aim to become climate neutral by 2050, the Japanese government is actively promoting decarbonisation and digitalisation of its economy, paving the way for a net zero future.
In 2018, ITOCHU, a leading Japanese trading house with business interests and holdings worldwide, partnered with Moixa to deploy their Smart Star ESS to customers in tandem with Moixa’s GridShare software. Smart Star is an advanced 9.8kWh energy storage system that ITOCHU offers alongside solar PV.
By leveraging Moixa’s technology, ITOCHU has been able to deploy the largest connected battery fleet in the world, recently reaching the milestone of 30,000 residential batteries connected to Moixa’s GridShare platform. This result is pivotal for enabling Japan’s green transition, and Moixa and ITOCHU are at the heart of this.
GridShare software’s optimisation
Moixa’s GridShare software has been integrated with the Smart Star ESS to enable device-level optimisation across the entire fleet. This AI-driven platform identifies a home’s solar generation and consumption patterns alongside weather forecast data and import and export tariffs. Based on all these inputs, GridShare generates a personalised daily charging plan for each customer, which is optimised to cover a household’s electricity need at the lowest cost possible using rooftop solar generation and off-peak energy.
ITOCHU customers can monitor their battery’s performance in their Moixa App and Dashboard, localised for Japanese users.
Providing value to the end user and decarbonising the grid
GridShare’s optimisation allows customers to save on their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint while supporting more renewables on the grid.
By storing energy from rooftop solar or from the grid when the carbon intensity is low, GridShare significantly reduces the amount of power imported from the grid during the evening peak by households in the ITOCHU fleet. As renewable electricity grows in Japan, this peak demand reduction not only saves customers money; it enables the country as a whole to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels (which tend to generate during peak periods).
Protecting against extreme weather events
Due to climate change, extreme weather events such as typhoons and blizzards are becoming increasingly frequent in Japan and often cause severe damage. Therefore, another critical element of the value of an ESS in the country is protection against grid outages. To enable this, GridShare also actively monitors weather alert systems — integrating with local weather alerts from the Japanese Meteorological Agency — to provide a whole-home backup.
When a severe weather alert is received for a particular region, devices in that area are automatically charged to and held at 100% in anticipation of any potential outage. The battery is kept at full charge as long as the weather alerts continue, then the software releases the battery back to its AI-driven optimisation mode after the weather threat has ended. More details about GridShare’s Weather Backup in Japan could be found in our blog.
Huge potential for grid services in Japan
To meet 2050 net zero goals, we must develop new methods to allow for more renewable energy to power our economies, decreasing the use of fossil fuels and lowering carbon emissions.
To counteract the intermittent nature of clean energy sources, finding ways to produce flexibility on the grid is crucial to decarbonising our electricity supply: it enables the system to be kept in balance on a second-by-second basis. By using smart technology solutions like GridShare, distributed energy resources (like smart batteries) can be aggregated into virtual power plants (VPPs) to deliver grid services. These VPP-provided services can eventually displace the fossil fuel plants that have historically provided these services.
Flexibility from VPPs can be procured by network operators through grid services such as frequency regulation, reserves, imbalance management, and constraint management. By having assets distributed across the network, these services can also deliver locational value (for instance, resolving a constraint at a particular distribution substation). Beyond grid services, flexibility can be used to help energy suppliers manage the supply and demand balance across their portfolio of customers. These new markets, empowered by solutions like GridShare, will allow individuals and businesses to become active participants in an energy market where historically they have been passive.
Grid services with early stages of residential participation are already a reality in the UK, where residential assets such as smart batteries can support the grid through the Balancing Mechanism, as well as distribution level flexibility services. For instance, in partnership with UK Power Networks, Moixa delivered one of the country’s first contracts to provide energy capacity to a local electricity network from home energy storage. More about the outcomes of this flexibility contract can be found in our case study.
In the race to net zero, Japan is committed to focusing on clean energy sources and innovative technology in the foreseeable future. The country’s share of electricity generation by renewables is forecasted to increase by 9.5% by 2030. While VPPs containing large industrial assets have begun to participate in some markets, residential participation in grid services is expected to begin in 2024. With 30,000 ITOCHU devices on the GridShare platform already, it is clear that VPPs of distributed assets will play a key role in grid management once markets allow it. Moixa and ITOCHU are poised and ready to generate value for the grid and for consumers when this reality arrives.
Always at the forefront of innovation, Moixa and ITOCHU play a vital role in supporting Japan’s transition to a green and digital economy, showing how AI can provide value to end users while decarbonising the grid and opening the way for grid services.
According to Sam Wevers, Moixa’s Associate Director, Software Product: “As Japan’s power market decarbonises to meet climate goals, system flexibility will be critical to accommodate increasing levels of intermittent renewable generation. Using digital solutions like GridShare, Japanese consumers can play an active part in keeping the system balanced by providing grid services, all the while saving money on their energy bills.”