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Domestic Media Site Tour:Tour sponsored by the Corporate Communications Department
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Visiting Koshikishima, which has embarked on the Islands of the Future project

The Corporate Communications Department of Sumitomo Corporation organizes site tours for media representatives to help them better understand the Group's business activities. The latest visit was made in April 2017 to the Koshikishima Islands ("Koshikishima") in Satsumasendai City, Kagoshima Prefecture to report on the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) to the locale for the start of a new project. The following article describes the related ceremony and the EV driving tour taken around one of the islands.

Kami-Koshikishima gets 40 EVs, equivalent to 10% of the total number of passenger cars on the island

On April 12, 2017, Sumitomo Corporation, Nissan Motor and Satsumasendai City announced the launch of a joint initiative, the Koshikishima "Islands of the Future" project, as part of which 40 EVs have been introduced to the island of Kami-Koshikishima. On the same day, a ceremony was held in Koshikishima's Sato-cho Minato Park to celebrate the arrival of the entire fleet of green cars.

The principal objective of the project is to explore the possibility of utilizing substantial number of EVs' charging to expand the use of renewable energy as well as helping with regional vitalization through the green cars. The project has employed the Nissan e-NV200, a commercial-type of EV featuring a quiet engine, no exhaust emissions and a power plug that enables outdoor electricity supply. The 40 e-NV200 cars are planned to be used for a broad range of purposes, from transporting tourists and promoting mobile sales of perishable foods around the island to various public services. A webpage has been created for users to post reports on specific utilization activities.

The ceremony was attended by a rough total of 100 persons, consisting of island residents, EV users, as well as media reporters and representatives of the three hosts.

The fleet of 40 EVs, a new mobility option for Koshikishima, displayed in orderly rows in Sato-cho Minato Park.

Koshikishima selected for Japan’s first demonstration project involving reused EV battery systems

Following the ceremony, the reporters set out for an island tour via EV. The first destination was the site of the former Urauchi Elementary School, located around a 10-minute drive from Sato-cho Minato Park. The site presently provides a venue for an ongoing demonstration project co-hosted by Sumitomo Corporation and Satsumasendai City that is seeking to develop a model for utilizing reused EV battery systems to expand access to renewable energy on the island to the fullest possible extent.

The former school ground is covered with 448 solar panels and five containers housing used batteries from 36 Nissan LEAF EVs. The plan is to bring together the five containers to build a single power storage system (the Koshikishima Power Management Center), which will be connected to the power grid to centrally control the output variability of power derived from multiple renewable energy sources operating on the island.

This is the first attempt by a private company in Japan to connect a power storage facility directly to the power grid. In order to promote the introduction of renewable energy, it is essential to solve the issue of fluctuating output from weather-dependent electricity generation systems. Identifying a high-performance, low-cost solution in reused EV batteries, the project has been organized to establish an economically viable model to expand access to renewable energy using the affordable material. Since its launch in November 2015, this project has welcomed around 500 interested visitors from local governments, the press, universities and others.

The 40 introduced EVs will play an important role in the demonstration project. The battery-powered fleet will increase the entire island's capacity for managing the output variability of power derived from renewable energy sources, thereby helping expand its accessibility. In a future plan, used batteries from the EVs will be supplied to the Power Management Center to expand its storage capacity, presenting a self-contained reuse model. The project also plans to build online remote EV battery recharging systems. During the site tour, participants were given the objectives and outlines of the project by representatives of Sumitomo Corporation and Satsumasendai City. They also got a close-up look at reused batteries housed in a container and visited the exhibition set up on the second floor of the former school building.

Former Urauchi Elementary School. The building has been preserved to retain the conditions at the time of closure, including messages to the last group of graduates.

Reporters listening to an explanation on reused battery systems in front of a container housing 12 units.

Emergency control using renewable energy and power storage systems

The second destination was a welfare center for the elderly in the Kami-Koshiki district. The center is equipped with an "emergency control package" that consists of a small-size solar power system and a power storage unit containing batteries from one LEAF car. The package has been introduced as part of the demonstration project for the purpose of building local distributed electricity supply infrastructure to strengthen emergency control capabilities. Electricity is generated by the solar power system, stored in the power storage unit and normally used to power the center facilities and recharge EVs. In the event of an outage, particularly one induced by a natural disaster, the package system is designed to supply backup power to the first floor of the building as well as to other facilities around the island through charged EV mounted batteries, which can function as a home energy source.

Emergency control package, including a power storage system that can also store energy from charged EV batteries.

Scenic beauty of Koshikishima

The visit to project-related sites was followed by a sightseeing tour around Koshikishima, which was designated a quasi-national park in March 2015 for its beautiful nature. Promotion activities are carried out under the tagline: "one of our planet’s ancient, scenic gems." The sightseeing plan focused on destinations known for their splendid natural landscape.

Nagamenohama, featuring a four-kilometer-long sandbar, is among the region's most popular scenic spots. The purpose-built observatory deck offers an overview of the area, including the three lagoons—Kuwazaki-ike, Kai-ike and Namako-ike—formed by an extended sandbar that separates the bodies of water from the sea. Due to differences in water quality, each lagoon has developed its own unique ecosystem to provide a home to different aquatic species. The best known of these are the two-meter-long giant eels that live in Kuwazaki-ike, the sea cucumbers of Namako-ike (namako means "sea cucumber" in Japanese) and Chromatiaceae, a type of purple sulfur bacteria that grows in Kai-ike. Chromatiaceae is a rare, ancient bacterial species that has existed for over three billion years and is presently found only in two locations in the world: the Baltic coastal area and the Kai-ike lagoon.

In addition to Nagamenohama, Sato-cho is also known for its distinctive landscape centered on a tombolo that links the isolated Tomiyama area to the main island. The town has been built on the sandbar, which ranges in width from 250 to 1,000 meters. For this geographical feature, Sato-cho has been named part of Japan's scenic tombolo trio together with Hakodate in Hokkaido and Kushimoto in Wakayama.

Koshikishima boasts a long list of other natural tourism resources, including the Kashima cliff (one of Japan's 100 spots with distinctive geological/geographical features), Lilium speciosum (a local species with the largest native growth area in Japan), and dinosaur fossils (a recently discovered resource).

EVs will be an appropriate modality option for this nature-rich region, and will serve to simultaneously promote local development and environmental conservation. With the Islands of the Future project now underway, Koshikishima has embarked on a journey aimed at creating a self-contained electricity generation/consumption model by developing effective infrastructure combining renewable energy, EVs and power storage systems and promoting a community recycling initiative through reused battery systems.

Overview of Nagamenohama from the observatory deck. Kuwazaki-ike on the left side is home to giant eels, carp and other aquatic creatures.

A tombolo stretching 1,500 meters between the main island and an isolated area

Active EVs in Koshikishima, where we call Islands of the Future

Site Tour Overview
Dates April 12,2017
Participants 15 representatives (including 12 reporters) from 11 newspapers and TV networks
Purpose To provide an opportunity to witness behind-the-scenes activities and see how effectively Sumitomo Corporation engages in individual projects
Main Activities (1)Visiting the Koshikishima Power Management Center
(2)Visiting the welfare center for the elderly to study the emergency control package
(3)Visiting scenic spots in Koshikishima

Related Tag

  • Environment & Infrastructure Business Unit
  • Japan
  • Electric Power & Energy
  • Transportation
  • Environment

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