It's game on for Japan's smart grid - and Itron jumps in

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Quick take: For years, Japan was resistant to the smart grid. Their "traditional" grid was already so solid, so reliable, so much better than the U.S. grid that they felt no need to modernize. Then came Fukushima. Suddenly, a big chunk of Japan's baseload generation was gone. For good. Suddenly they had to rely much more on highly variable renewables. Suddenly they urgently needed demand response and peak load reductions. Suddenly, they needed a smart grid.

 

Enter Itron in partnership with Panasonic. You'll note that (as far as I can tell from the release on page 2), Itron is doing in Japan what Echelon is doing in Brazil and China -- namely, selling its technology and expertise help a local partner, rather than attempting to compete head on with the locals. -- Jesse Berst

 

 

Japan is expected to install nearly 80 million smart meters in the next decade – and that opportunity isn't lost on Liberty Lake, WA-based Itron. The company announced a strategic alliance last week with Panasonic, the Japanese electronics firm, to develop a smart meter platform tailored to the Japanese market.

 

Itron said it will design, develop and deliver a smart meter solution to Panasonic that will support multiple communication options, including 3G cellular, RF mesh and power line carrier to meet specific business needs and geographies in Japan.

 

Itron of course isn't the only company eyeing the Japanese market. We thought it was worth a look at what else is happening on smart grid landscape now that more than 18 months have passed since the Fukushima disaster and Japan tries to compensate for the loss of nearly a third of its nuclear power generation capacity.

Itron Announces Alliance with Panasonic to Deliver Smart Metering Solutions in Japan

LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. USA — November 16, 2012— Itron, Inc. (NASDAQ: ITRI) announced today that it has formed a strategic alliance with Panasonic Corporation to develop a smart meter platform tailored to the Japanese market. The companies will utilize their combined global experience and local presence to offer a smart metering solution that will meet Japan’s electric utilities’ needs and requirements today and into the future.

As part of the agreement, Itron will design, develop and deliver an Itron smart meter with its 3G cellular communications to Panasonic. Because of the inherent flexibility of Itron’s technology, the solution will support multiple communication options, including cellular, RF mesh and Power Line Carrier to meet specific business needs and geographies in Japan.

With this collaboration, Panasonic will expand its communications product line to the smart meter business, contributing to the realization of an ecological and smart-enabled society via home energy management systems.

In Japan, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has mandated the adoption of smart meters over the next 10 years for nearly 80 million electric meters to help manage energy supply and demand. Smart meters are viewed as a key tool for gauging energy usage during peak hours so that utilities can offer special pricing programs to encourage reductions in energy consumption. This is important as Japan works to implement multiple technology and power generation alternatives to compensate for the nearly 30 percent loss in nuclear power generation.

“We’re proud to partner with Panasonic to deliver a proven solution that will serve as the foundation for the types of programs the government, utilities and people of Japan envision for their future,” said Philip Mezey, president and COO of Itron Energy. “Itron’s technology will help the people of Japan realize their energy management and conservation goals.”

About Itron
Itron is a global technology company. We build solutions that help utilities measure, monitor and manage energy and water. Our broad product portfolio includes electricity, gas, water and thermal energy measurement and control technology; communications systems; software; and professional services. With thousands of employees supporting nearly 8,000 utilities in more than 100 countries, Itron empowers utilities to responsibly and efficiently manage energy and water resources. Join us in creating a more resourceful world; start here: www.itron.com.