Meidensha: Creating a better future with our people and technology.

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(Muroran City General Hospital)

This content is a reprint of "Meidensha: Creating a better future with our people and technology"
that was posted in the Nikkei Online Edition from November 2018 to January 2019.

(Muroran City General Hospital)

This content is a reprint of "Meidensha: Creating a better future with our people and technology"
that was posted in the Nikkei Online Edition from November 2018 to January 2019.

Meidensha: Creating a better future with our people and technology.

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Stage6 Changing society through efficient energy management. EMS resulted in a 10% reduction in hospital energy costs.Stage6 Changing society through efficient energy management. EMS resulted in a 10% reduction in hospital energy costs.

"By promoting efficient energy use within the hospital, we have also made a significant reduction in energy costs." So says Hajime Arai, Secretary General at Muroran City General Hospital. In fiscal year 2017, this hospital installed an EMS (Energy Management System) built by Meidensha, and achieved a cost reduction of 10% over the previous year.

Muroran, a notable industrial town in Hokkaido. With rows of factories including steel plants still to be seen, the city's population has almost halved from its peak at the end of the 1970s, to 80,000. The local municipality is facing tough financial times.

The hospital, situated on a small hill overlooking Muroran Port, has 549 beds and is the central medical facility for the region. Medical services provided by this hospital cover three cities and three towns including Muroran, a total population of around 190,000. There are 24 clinical departments and five operating rooms.

Hajime Arai
Hajime AraiSecretary General
Muroran City General Hospital

However, "For many municipal hospitals, operations are becoming increasingly difficult,” says Mr. Arai. The hospital embarked on aggressive cost reductions. They replaced over half of the approximately 7,000 fluorescent tubes with LED, and hospital employees voluntarily undertake the maintenance work and frequently go around the hospital to do the job.

The hospital also sought technical solutions to optimize their energy systems for better efficiency. The hospital's energy comes from two power systems: commercial power provided by the electric utility and their private combined heat & power system (CHP). The hospital has two CHPs, which are diesel engine generators using fuel oil, each having a rated output of 500 kilowatts. The cost of both types of power varied significantly depending on the time. A staff of 5-6 are normally engaged in energy management in the control room on the first basement floor. "In the past, there were times when we couldn’t have optimal operation because operation depended on the experience of each staff member who handled it," adds Mr. Arai.

Checking the CHP control panel

Data analysis by weather and time of day
Realizing optimal power supply

So, the hospital decided to introduce Meidensha's EMS. "An EMS is a system that assesses the status of energy usage and controls energy saving,” says Takashi Uyama, Senior Assistant Section Manager of EMS Products Engineering Section, Energy Systems Engineering Division in Meidensha's Power Utility & Energy Sector Business Unit. "Meidensha's EMS features integrated management and control of the power system, and promotes overall energy efficiency, on the supply side as well as the demand side. The system adapts to all types of distributed energy resource and automatically controls the power system based on demand forecasts and the actual status, thus increasing energy efficiency and achieving optimum operation." Demand forecasts are derived by processing statistical data based on actual energy consumption. But of course, those forecasts are never 100% accurate. "In order to fill the gap between the forecast and actual consumption, we have built a fine adjustment function into EMS. On the other hand, there is site-specific know-how. It sometimes works better if we integrate such knowledge into the role EMS has been designed to play. This is an easy-to-use tool for sure, but we can develop a system that best meets the customer needs if we incorporate the know-how the customer has accumulated in the past. That flexibility is Meidensha's strength," explains Mr. Uyama.

At Muroran City General Hospital, they used to use both commercial power and power from the CHP constantly. The introduction of the EMS, however, has enabled more efficient operation by calculating the ideal combination of both powers based on the accumulated data, such as weather and season, the day of the week, and the time of day.

Takashi Uyama
Takashi UyamaEMS Products Engineering Section
Energy Systems Engineering Division
Power Utility & Energy Sector Business Unit

The mission of a core hospital is a serious one. If the power supply is stopped in the middle of an operation, it could threaten the patient’s life. For a core hospital, a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is indispensable. It needs a power system that is resilient in times of disasters, conserves energy in consideration of global warming, and keeps costs as low as possible.

In September 2018 after the introduction of EMS, the Hokkaido Eastern Iburi earthquake occurred. The hospital set up a Disaster Response Headquarters immediately after the quake. During the power outage that followed the quake, the hospital fulfilled its role as a public hospital. "With the understanding and cooperation of many of our patients, we linked with the disaster emergency medical team and even on the day of the earthquake we were able to take in a total of 49 vulnerable patients from neighboring hospitals such as those attached to artificial breathing machines and those requiring dialysis treatment. By using EMS under operators' control, it was possible to support appropriate energy use in accordance with the status at the time when the earthquake occurred, and continue our emergency medical response," explains Mr. Arai, about the situation at that time.

When we looked in at the Central Control Room on July 31, the terminal screen was showing the commercial power supply providing most of the power with one CHP generator in operation supplying 250 kilowatts at 10 a.m. based on the optimal energy operation plan calculated by the EMS. The other CHP generator was turned off and undergoing maintenance. As a result of operation based on the calculated ideal energy supply combination, the volume of oil used was 18% lower than before. With a higher awareness of energy-saving, the amount of electricity used was 5% lower. For three consecutive years, the hospital has been awarded the top rank 'Rank S' by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, as a Superior Energy-Saving Business.

The power industry is facing a time of reform. Following the complete liberalization of the retail sector in 2016, the separation of power generation and transmission is scheduled for 2020. New PPSs are appearing one after another in various regions. The structure of the power industry is undergoing a major change due to stiff price competition and global warming. Meanwhile, regional municipalities are in financial difficulties due to a population decline. The overall power demand, however, is predicted to grow with the spread of electric vehicles (EV), artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Efficient energy operation and cost reductions are now a top-priority issue for all businesses—both municipalities and corporations.

The energy supplied within the hospital is continuously optimized through the EMS.

Aiming for a new type of power supply and efficient regional power operation

One solution to the challenge involves Meidensha’s participation in the Yokohama Smart City Project, a part of the Next-Generation Energy and Social Systems Demonstration Project implemented by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. In the project, Meidensha demonstrated optimization of power usage among multiple sites. Subsequently, in an effort to implement the demonstrated results, the company delivered an EMS that manages and controls the energy linkage between multiple facilities to Yokohama City University Medical Center. It enabled the efficient, integrated use of power by connecting the neighboring City of Yokohama Minami Ward Office, another power consumer. "By building a system of power exchange from the highly-reliable hospital power to the ward office power, we aimed to strengthen the power supply to two important municipal facilities while improving efficiency," says Mr. Uyama.

The next challenge is to extend the energy operation optimization of local facilities to the more efficient and optimized operation of energy for the whole region. "Other than energy-saving and cost reductions, the issues facing the power industry are numerous and varied: the stability of power supply represented by BCP, and the global reduction in CO2 from an environmental perspective,” says Tomoaki Hirashima, Deputy General Manager of Energy Systems Engineering Division, Power Utility & Energy Sector Business Unit at Meidensha. “One promising solution to these issues is distributed energy resource including renewable energy in a region. In order to make efficient use of what is called locally produced-locally consumed power, we must facilitate power exchange within the region and optimize the regional systems as a whole. For that purpose, it is necessary to link various facilities in the region and build an "integrated EMS" that allows efficient operation of energy," he emphasizes.

An integrated EMS aimed for optimal energy operation by exchanging power within the region

In Europe and the U.S. Virtual Power Plants (VPP) are attracting attention. This is an attempt to combine multiple small power generation facilities and storage systems, such as renewable power generation plants in the region, power storage systems, CHP and fuel cell systems installed in factories and residential houses, and make them function as if they were one large power station. "For example, an EV owned by a household can be used as a power source for power exchange." Mr. Hirashima continues, "An integrated EMS allows a scheme where a municipality-centered PPS administers and operates the EMS, networking local hospitals and schools, water supply and sewage treatment plants, private factories and offices for power exchange.” Already in Japan, PPSs are starting up one after another that are promoted by municipalities, such as Hamamatsu Energy Co., Ltd, and are embarking on local production and consumption of renewable energy. The spread of Integrated EMSs is gathering pace.

Tomoaki Hirashima
Tomoaki HirashimaEnergy Systems Engineering Division
Power Utility & Energy Sector Business Unit

Summary

"All regional municipalities are facing financial difficulties. They are also obliged to save energy, so moves for optimization by sharing clean energy within the region are bound to expand," emphasizes Mr. Arai, Secretary General at Muroran City General Hospital. As represented by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), efforts for better energy supply in society are at a major turning point from the viewpoint of the environment and city-making. Japan has 29 municipalities registered as SDGs' Future Cities, which have begun to act in various ways towards their own goals in 17 sustainable fields, including the environmental objective of "Affordable and Clean Energy." "It may take some time for such efforts as setting up municipality-owned PPSs to become common. However, if these efforts are realized, not only will it promote regional power optimization in consideration of BCP and environmental measures, but also lead to employment creation and increased tax revenue, thus revitalizing the regions. We want to improve society through EMS technology," Mr. Hirashima from Meidensha says eagerly. Efforts for optimum energy management for individual regions are likely to accelerate in the future.

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Explanation of terms

Distributed energy resource
To date, electric power has primarily been provided from generation by a power company, but recently power is increasingly supplied from relatively small-scale power plants and systems that are located close to where the power is consumed. Distributed energy resource includes various power sources, from private CHPs that generate power for own use at factories, offices and hospitals, to environmentally-friendly renewable energy resources such as photovoltaic power, wind power and small hydro, and small low-output power generation equipment, such as energy storage systems and fuel cells.
Distributed energy resource
CHP plays its part in the supply of energy to the hospital.
*Honorifics omitted.

Meidensha: Creating a better future with our people and technology.

  • Stage1 Powering the excitement.
  • Stage2 Protecting water resources and infrastructure that nurture the community.
  • Stage3 Driving force for a new automotive era.
  • Stage4 Pursuing greater safety and stability in railway transportation.
  • Stage5 AI for water treatment protection.
  • Stage6 Efficient energy management.
  • Stage7 Lightning Protection.
  • Stage8 IoT to protect from heavy rain.
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