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In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, lighting and POS systems failed due to power outages, but we kept our stores open using flashlights and calculators. This experience reminded us of the important roles of convenience stores as a community lifeline. We want to supply necessary commodities by securing the electrical power required for our shops even during power outages. However, more than a decade ago, we couldn't introduce a new energy system due to cost and performance issues. Finally, we realized our long-standing dream through the Ichinomiya Hanaike Store Project.
Circle K staff visited a pilot store established by Panasonic in Okegawa City, Saitama Prefecture and got hands-on experience of an Energy Creation-storage Linked System, which combines a photovoltaic power generation system and a lithium-ion storage battery. "This helped us develop a concrete image of our wants and needs," says one of the shop tour participants. The Okegawa experiment store serves as a retail outlet on the premises of Panasonic Technical Services. Equipped with Panasonic’s photovoltaic power generation system, power storage system, and energy-efficient facilities, field testing is now being carried out, ranging from energy measurement to optimal energy-saving operations.
The essential elements for a convenience store to function as a community lifeline during an emergency are a POS system for placing orders for goods in short supply and minimum lighting to ensure the safety of shop staff and customers. By linking a high-efficient photovoltaic power generation system and a lithium-ion storage battery, Panasonic offers an Energy Creation-storage Linked System capable of supplying the minimum amount of electricity required for shop operations during power outages.
We turned our attention to LED lighting of store façades and other signboards, which are brilliantly lit every night of the year. Panasonic's solution uses only electricity supplied from storage batteries to light up all signboards at night under normal conditions. Harnessing photovoltaic energy reduces CO2 emissions from signboards to virtually zero. During power outages, a POS system and part of the LED lighting remain operable, enabling a store to continue essential operations—not only with respect to payment but also order placement and management.
A disaster can happen at any time. The amount of electricity stored in a storage battery becomes lowest in the early morning since electricity is used to light up signboards at night. To secure the electricity required for operating POS and LED lighting systems irrespective of the time of the day when a power failure occurs, Panasonic incorporated an energy storage algorithm into its Energy Creation-storage Linked System. This system is also linked to a switch for automatically turning signboards on and off depending on the level of outdoor brightness. As such, our system reduces waste in electricity consumption and switches POS and lighting systems to self-sustained operations at any time.
A Circle K representative says, "We acquired a lot of know-how, including necessary construction to install a photovoltaic power generation system and the required building strength." The amount of energy created by a photovoltaic power generation system, charged in and discharged from a storage battery, and consumed by a POS system and business activities is currently being measured using an energy monitor. The new energy solution will be applied to other stores after verifying the effects.
This system enables efficient storage of the electricity generated (created) by photovoltaic or fuel cell cogeneration systems and the use of this electricity when main power is close to its limit or temporarily unavailable. Alternating current (AC) is generally used to transmit electricity, but since photovoltaic power generation systems and storage battery units supply direct current (DC), photovoltaic power generation systems are equipped with a DC/AC converter. This power conditioner is not 100% efficient, so energy is lost during the conversion process. AC/DC conversion is also required for storing power in storage battery units. The hardwired systems for energy creation and storage, however, directly store the DC power from photovoltaic panels in storage battery units to maximize the use of the generated power.
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