In Chiba, Japan, the premier electronics show featured an energy efficient city of the future. The futuristic city had a special show floor devoted entirely to it at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (Ceatec), amid the electronics, gadgets and robots.
The city of the future is a crack at selling a vision of urban life in 2020 and beyond, a “Smart City” so to speak. The vision is of a post-fossil fuel world, utilizing alternative energies derived from the sun, wind and nuclear power, harnessed in mass quantities. The idea is much the same as the latest hybrid automobile trends, using alternative forms of energy to decrease our dependence on non-renewable resources and be more environmentally friendly in the process. So what is the vision for the future of Japan’s cities?
The power harnessed from various natural sources is distributed to buildings, homes and even electric cars that are connected through “smart grids”, which have the capacity to monitor usage throughout the energy network. Carbon emissions are decreased drastically, which are thought to be one of the causes of global warming.
A test city will be set up in Yokohama, just southwest of Tokyo, where the social and infrastructure of a smart city can be tried for the rest of the world to emulate. This will be a five-year experiment, and is titled “Yokohama Smart City Project”. Seven Japanese companies are participating in the smart city experiment, including Nissan Motor Co., Panasonic Corp., Toshiba Corp., Tokyo Electric Power Co., Tokyo Gas Co., Meidensha Corp., and Accenture’s Japan unit. The end result hoped for is a social model to sell to the rest of the world.
But Japan is not the only country creating smart grids; Australia has invested around $100 million into developing a commercial-scale smart grid in Newcastle. South Korea is also going green, embarking on a smart city project on Jeju Island and aims to slice national energy consumption 3 percent by 2030. China is also jumping on the green wagon, investing a cool $7.3 billion toward the technologies.
Toyota will launch its own home smart grid system called the Toyota Smart Center in Japan while simultaneously releasing its plug-in hybrid cars in 2012.
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