Sanyo’s massive manufacturing facility in a rural area just outside of Osaka, Japan serves as a massive testing facility for energy-saving technology that could soon pop up in the U.S. The Kasai Plant’s Green Energy Park houses a 1 MW “Mega Solar System” and a 1.5 MWh lithium-ion mega battery system that holds the world’s largest level of charging capacity. (We were amazed, too.)
In front of the office park and manufacturing plant stands a massive solar structure called the Solalib. It helps supply power to both the building and car and bike charging stations. Notice its shape, designed to represent a tree and the sun.
The Solalib is outfitted with HIT Double bi-facial solar panels (notice that they’re see-through). The back face of a HIT Double panel generates electricity from ambient light reflected off surrounding surfaces and combines with power from the front face of the panel, resulting in up to 30 percent higher power generation per square foot.
The office has a brain of its own. Housed in here is a battery system with 250,000 cells that function as one single battery. The building also detects human entrance and exit in order to control heating and air conditioning.
Electric bikes are popular in Japan and are catching on here in the U.S. Adjacent to the Sanyo facility is a charging station that can accommodate and provide power for up to 100 hybrid bikes, a feature of which many employees take full advantage.
After parking their bikes at the solar station, employees remove the battery and insert them into charging stations stored in lockers.
Even on a cloudy day, there is enough energy to charge the average electric bike. Employees and visitors can read the current energy output supplied by just the sun. The solar parking lot has enough capacity to power 200 laptop PCs for 8 hours each.
In the lobby of the Sanyo office sit these small tables with built-in solar panel. These tables store up energy and can be used to charge any electronic device while you’re reading the paper or taking a quick coffee break.
There are no plugs on this solar table. Simply sit your cell phone on the table, and a small blue light will illuminate, signaling that your cell phone is successfully charging.
Employee participation and awareness is important at Sanyo. In the lobby of the main building, a wall of TV screens display how much energy the entire facility is currently saving. According to Fumitoshi Terashima, general manager of Smart Energy Systems for Sanyo, although the Energy Park was a hefty upfront investment, it will save approximately 2,480 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
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Editor’s Note: The Panasonic Corporation covered the travel expenses for this reporter.