Central Management with IoT and Cloud Keeps Leopalace21's Rooftop Solar Power Project Going

Leopalace21 Corporation, which manages rental properties across Japan, is currently running the Roof Mega Solar Project. As a trial, they are leasing roof space from the owners of the rental properties to install a solar power system to generate clean power and earn additional revenue. Fujitsu is supporting Leopalace21 in this project as its partner in the fight against global warning. This is being done by using a monitoring system leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud services.

Promoting Solar Power to Fight Global Warming

Leopalace21 is Japan’s leading property management company, which builds residential buildings for renting and offers 36,000 such properties across Japan. The company has been undertaking a new solar power project since 2011. It is part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, stated in the company’s corporate philosophy. However, the high installation costs of rooftop solar power generators were a heavy burden on the owners, slowing down the project’s development.

Meanwhile, Fujitsu had just started a new project involving the remote monitoring and maintenance of solar power generation for residential property in earthquake-struck Fukushima. The idea was to promote solar power in that region, but Fujitsu did not have any sales know-how in the residential market.

A Great Idea: Leasing Roof Space from Residential Properties

Fujitsu then went to Leopalace21, with the idea of leasing roof space from their residential properties, paired with the idea of monitoring solar power generation using the IoT and cloud. The significance of this idea was that the owners of the properties managed by Leopalace21 did not have to cover the initial cost of installation, but instead would benefit because they receive fees for renting out their roofspace. This idea greatly increased the potential of solar power development.

In September 2012, Leopalace21 and Fujitsu started a joint trial of an ICT-based virtual solar power station in Fukushima Prefecture. It was the result of their shared passion to fight global warming and create an environmentally friendly society. Leopalace21’s Roof Mega Solar Project, which involves rooftop solar power generation system, kicked off with solar panels installed on some 5,000 buildings across Japan as of March 2015.

Central Management of Distributed Rooftop Solar Power Systems

96% of Japan’s energy is imported, including oil, coal, natural gas and uranium. This means that Japan sees solar power as an ideal sustainable energy candidate because it is readily available and is also environmentally friendly. Problem-free operation, including the rapid detection of malfunctions, is key to expanding solar power.

It was once said that solar power systems would be maintenance-free. In reality, problems occur because of external factors such as the natural environment, leading to the loss of power and revenue.

Fujitsu’s solar power monitoring service collects data every minute from solar power system sensors installed on the roofs of residential properties for rent across Japan. The data includes how much power is generated by the panels and a comparison between the amount of sunlight and the expected power of solar power generated. The information obtained is sent to the data center every five minutes. If a problem is detected, an email alert is sent to the operation monitoring center, and if the center confirms that it is a system error, maintenance engineers will be sent to the site. This central management system detects trouble early and prevents power losses, allowing for stable operation.

Overview of the solar power generation monitoring service

Creation of Added Value—Solar Power’s Usefulness in Emergencies

The solar power monitoring system means that tenants will be able to enjoy environmentally friendly, clean power. Solar power can also be shared with local communities in emergencies. Eventually, smart community will be formed that efficiently generate and use electricity via solar power generation.

Going forward, Fujitsu is committed to providing interconnectivity via solar power generation systems with regard to rooftops across Japan, regions whose aim is to become smart cities, schools and other facilities, and residential properties. Fujitsu is committed to supporting reliable system operation, allowing natural energy to be shared throughout society. This also will be a great initiative for slowing down global warming, with securing the lifestyles of the next generation being the goal.