• Participating in the Career Koshien in modern society

    • We are conducting this research because we are working on a theme set by TEPCO.
  • Text below

  • Our team has chosen the theme set by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), “Promote innovative services using infrastructure that make daily life more enjoyable.”

  • In this theme, the direction of the service can greatly change depending on how we utilize “infrastructure.” TEPCO also mentioned in an interview for Career Koshien that there may be completely different ways to utilize the infrastructure that TEPCO possesses if we change our perspective. Therefore, it can be said that it is important to consider how to utilize infrastructure in this theme.

  • However, our team did not know how to utilize something as broad as “infrastructure.” We thought that by investigating past examples of services that utilize infrastructure, we would be able to see how we should utilize infrastructure in the service we are planning. In this research, we focus on energy infrastructure provided by TEPCO and others. TEPCO also stated that there is great potential in energy, particularly electricity, among the various types of infrastructure 1.

  • In this report, we first present and summarize various examples of services and ideas that utilize infrastructure in relation to “consumption,” “supply,” and “acquisition.” We then provide an analysis of these examples.

2.1. Services that utilize energy consumption infrastructure

  1. Tokyo Electric Power Company Home Monitoring Plan
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company provides a service where users can check the usage status of electricity and home appliances, as well as the operating status of solar power generation, through a smartphone app (Figure 1). Sensors are installed on the distribution board to estimate the electricity usage of each home appliance using machine learning algorithms. They also provide life log data such as power usage data for each home appliance to housing providers.

Figure 1: Service concept diagram

  1. Tokyo Gas Home Monitoring Service Gas Monitoring
  • Tokyo Gas provides a service where users can check and control gas usage through a smartphone even when they are away from home by installing a communication device on the gas meter. When gas is continuously used for a long time, the monitoring center calls to confirm if it was not forgotten to turn off the gas.
  • They also have a service that sends a notification by email if no gas is used at the family’s home for 24 hours the previous day, for the purpose of checking the well-being of family members living apart (such as the elderly).
  1. Analysis
  • Both of these services have the concept of being able to “check data through a smartphone” at their core. Being able to obtain data by installing devices on meters is a strength of infrastructure companies.
  • Additionally, the idea of checking the living conditions and well-being of people in places far from the infrastructure usage is an interesting way to utilize infrastructure. Being able to access even those who are slow to adopt digital devices, such as the elderly, is a strength of utilizing infrastructure.

2-2. Services that utilize energy supply infrastructure

  1. Kansai Electric Power Business Idea Contest Dentune!!
  • Kansai Electric Power has been holding an idea contest since 2016 to find ways to utilize electric poles. They state that by redefining the approximately 270 electric poles they own and connecting unique ideas, new services may be born. Here are some excerpts from the ideas that passed the preliminary round: “A service that adds analog functions such as “eaves,” “rental umbrellas,” and “chairs” to electric poles to provide a place of relaxation.” “A bike sharing service that utilizes the location information of electric poles, allowing bikes to be borrowed and returned anywhere by hanging them on electric poles.”

Note: The translation of the names of organizations and services may vary depending on the context and official English translations.”A taxi dispatch service that utilizes the location information of utility poles. It targets elderly people who are not familiar with smartphones and provides dedicated pick-up service through a special pass.”

“A service that installs monitoring devices for wildlife (such as thermal sensors and infrared cameras) on utility poles to prevent damage to crops and other agricultural products.”

In addition, Kansai Electric Power is planning to trial and commercialize the “Utility Pole Hanging Delivery Locker Service,” one of the ideas born from Dentune!!, in 2018.

  1. Hydrogen transportation system utilizing existing natural gas supply infrastructure
  • Hydrogen has been gaining attention as a new energy source in recent years. However, to promote the adoption of new technologies in society, it is essential to consider transportation methods. In Europe and the United States, a method of mixing hydrogen into existing natural gas pipelines for transportation is being studied.
  • In areas where LP gas is used outside of urban areas, this method cannot be used, so on-site hydrogen production is also being considered. Furthermore, since the concept of “Distribution” is contrary to the hardware pipeline, it is desirable to eventually have on-site production in all areas.
  1. Considerations
  • When utilizing the supply system, the advantage is that the infrastructure exists “widely.” The hydrogen transportation system is a typical example of this. In the case of utility poles, the advantage is that each pole is associated with location information.
  • Additionally, as in the discussion in 2-1, it can be said that providing services to elderly people who are not familiar with smartphones is a strength.

2-3. Services utilizing energy acquisition infrastructure

  1. Obama Onsen Binary Power Station
  • Obama Onsen utilizes the heat of high-temperature hot spring water that has not been used before for binary power generation. It can generate electricity equivalent to the power consumption of about 120 households per day. By utilizing the new power generation method called binary power generation, the hot spring is creating new value.
  • By utilizing this power generation method, the conflict between geothermal power generation operators and hot spring operators that had been occurring in the past has also been resolved.
  1. H&M uses discarded clothes as fuel for power plants
  • H&M provides discarded clothes that cannot be used for recycling due to reasons such as mold as fuel for thermal power plants. The city of Vasteras in Sweden aims to use not only H&M’s clothes but also other waste that can be used as fuel, with the goal of using only recycled fuel.
  1. Considerations
  • Both of these services are ideas that explore new methods of power generation. By applying the newly developed power generation methods to general companies, they are utilizing previously wasted resources. Power generation technology has been advancing in recent years, as seen in renewable energy, etc. There is still the potential to effectively utilize power generation methods by combining them with other fields, as in the above services.

  • The advantage of utilizing infrastructure lies in the fact that it is “already widely prevalent.”

  • For example, by providing services that rely on infrastructure, it is possible to reduce the cost of widespread adoption. This is especially beneficial for providing services to elderly people who are not familiar with new tools such as smartphones.

  • Additionally, supply infrastructures such as utility poles, power lines, and pipelines are generally widely available, allowing for the provision of services that require facilities over a wide area.

  • Based on these insights, I believe that we can generate business ideas that make everyday life more enjoyable.

  • Furthermore, since the insights obtained in this survey mainly focus on the “strengths” of utilizing infrastructure, it is necessary to conduct research from a different perspective to gain a deeper understanding of the “weaknesses” in utilizing infrastructure.1. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) participated in the “Career Koshien 2019” event. Link Accessed: 12-Nov-2019.

  1. TEPCO introduced a home monitoring plan. Link Accessed: 14-Nov-2019.

  2. Tokyo Gas provides various services for households. Link Accessed: 15-Nov-2019.

  3. Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) organized a business idea contest called “Dentune!! - A New Future for Utility Poles.” Link Accessed: 16-Nov-2019.

  4. KEPCO initiated a trial implementation of a unique service called “Electric Pole Hanging Delivery Lockers,” the first of its kind in Japan. Link Accessed: 16-Nov-2019.

  5. Ken Suzuki, Shinichiro Kawabata, and Tetsuji Tomita discuss the current state of hydrogen transportation systems utilizing existing natural gas supply infrastructure in Europe and the United States. (IEEJ, Jul. 2005)

  6. The “Obama Onsen Binary Power Plant” is a project that utilizes discarded hot spring water to generate renewable energy, transforming the hot spring area. Link Accessed: 17-Nov-2019.

  7. Kruger Quantum discusses how H&M clothing is being used as fuel in thermal power plants, offering a more sustainable alternative to coal. Link