JRI begins rollout of support service for “Smart Share Club” local communities autonomously addressing energy and disaster prevention issues
— First project to begin full-scale operation on January 26 in Osaki station area, with support from Shinagawa ward office —
January 24, 2012
The Japan Research Institute, Limited (Head office: Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo; President: Yasuyuki Kimoto; “JRI”) has launched a service that provides support, from establishment through to operation, for locally based communities to be known as “Smart Share Clubs” that autonomously implement energy and disaster prevention measures.
The first community to be established with the support of this service, Smart Share Club Osaki, is based on a car-sharing project using electric vehicles (EVs) powered by “green” electricity (from renewable sources). The project, which is also supported by Shinagawa ward office, will begin full-scale operation on January 26.
The Great East Japan Earthquake led to a major change in awareness of energy and disaster prevention issues among the people of Japan. Last summer’s electricity shortages exposed the dangers of relying entirely on the electricity grid, and the construction of distributed power supplies at local level is now regarded as a matter of urgency. The use of renewable energy is likewise attracting greater interest. The reconstruction process has also renewed awareness of the importance of community networks.
Ideally, local communities would proactively address energy and disaster prevention issues and strengthen networks. In practice, the number of local communities with the necessary funds or manpower to undertake such activities is limited. In fact, many communities barely function.
Smart Share Clubs are local communities taking the form of voluntary membership-based organizations made up of local companies and residents, with goals on which it is easy to achieve agreement such as “local energy self-sufficiency and use” and “disaster-resistant urban development”. Members pool expertise, funds and manpower to establish activities and create infrastructure relating to energy and disaster prevention.
The Club’s first energy-related activity will be a project involving EVs using green electricity from locally installed solar power generating equipment, which members will fund and use jointly (car-sharing, etc.). This will allow members to cut their day-to-day car maintenance, taxi and car rental costs. The EVs, which run on rechargeable batteries, would also provide a means of transportation during gasoline shortages and could be used as emergency power supplies in evacuation centers and hospitals. The aim is also to establish “networks” among members by stimulating communication through the operation and use of EVs, and to build a local community that is able to use EVs for autonomous disaster prevention activities in an emergency.
Since it is likely that not all members can be asked to supply a share of the funds and manpower required for infrastructure creation and activities, the Smart Share Club divides members into “premier members” who are able to provide funds and manpower and especially take part in activities voluntarily (mainly local companies) and “ordinary members” who are able to understand the purpose of the project (mainly local residents).
JRI will work with premier members to prepare for the establishment of the Smart Share Club, studying what energy infrastructure is best suited to local conditions, negotiating with local government bodies, carrying out simulations of project schemes and establishing funding requirements, drawing up plans and advertising strategies for attracting ordinary members, studying what kind of parent organization is best suited to the pooling of infrastructure assets and, after the Club is established, will provide a range of support from creating energy infrastructure to implementing projects. In future, the plan is to establish networking activities that will pool Smart Share Club technology, funds, project operation know-how, etc. and to expand sharing services into areas other than energy infrastructure.
Including Smart Share Club Osaki, JRI aims to establish three Smart Share Clubs in various locations around Japan by the end of fiscal 2012.