Green Community Competition in Saitama, Japan — Public vs. Private Sector

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Clean energy is definitely a great thing for the average consumer – but it’s a little hard to get and it’s not easy to ensure a steady and sufficient supply from 100%-green sources. Cue the formation of several coalitions testing the idea of a green neighborhood to see just how clean, energy-efficient, and self-sufficient a limited area can be.

Local Solar

One such venture has tentatively been named “Eco Town,” and it’s located in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. Specifically, it’s in the city of Yorii. The project aim is to build a total of 400 houses starting in the fall of 2013, and for each and every one of them to be supplied solely by local green electricity.

Heading up the project are auto maker Honda and home construction company Daiwa House. Also included are another four companies from the Honda family, including companies specializing in solar panel manufacturing and sales and real estate construction.

The plan of action is somewhat long-term – the technical committee was established this week, while the official project team will be formed in April. At that time, the number of companies involved in the project will be expanded to 10 (electronics and optical fibers being the areas of expansion).

Drawing Up the Housing Plans

Once the project team has been established, the team will decide the specifications for their green houses. As a guideline for the designs, each house must include solar panels to charge household batteries and smart meters, along with other energy-saving features to be decided. Outside the homes, the city streetlights in the area will be replaced with LEDs as another energy-saving method.

In order to supply Eco Town with local energy, Honda is building a megasolar array (with an output of between 2000 and 3000 kW) to be built in 2013. A control center to adjust supply and demand for the residentially zoned area will also be included, so as not to waste energy.

We Were Here First

Oddly, the Honda/Daiwa partnership isn’t the only smart housing development set to be placed in the town of Yorii. A public project (planned and funded by the Saitama prefectural government) is also considering Yorii as a potential site for its eco project; they announced 5 candidate spots in November of last year, including Yorii. They’re expected to reduce the number of candidates from 5 to 3 in April, but if they don’t hurry, Honda and Daiwa may get there first.

Questions? Comments? Let us know below.

Source: Nihon Keizai Shimbun | Image: Wikimedia Commons

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