Itochu launches residential lithium-ion battery in Japan

Its new Smart Star L storage system boasts a rated capacity of 9.8 kWh, which Itochu claims is big enough to supply electricity to a home for a 24-hour period. The unit, which weighs about 195 kg, is designed for outdoor installation. It is now available for purchase in Japan at JPY 2.85 million ($25,575) per unit, excluding excluding tax and installation costs.

The Smart Star L solution is also capable of serving as a temporary back-up power source for a home in the event of an emergency, which has been a key selling point for similar systems since the power outages caused by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of March 2011. The system can therefore continue to provide enough electricity to run 200-volt appliances such as air-conditioning units in the event of a power failure.

“The use of solar power as renewable energy for power generation will be even more prevalent around the world in the future,” Itochu said in an online statement. “Energy storage systems will be increasingly important in Japan for self-consumption of generated power as well because the period for the feed-in-tariff scheme will begin to expire for residential solar power generation systems in 2019.”

It said that it is also looking at the possibility using its storage battery technologies to enter the emerging market in Japan for virtual power plants, under which distributed energy sources such as small PV arrays are aggregated and controlled to function as a single power source.

Itochu has been selling energy-storage solutions for several years. In early 2015, it signed an agreement to distribute California-based Green Charge Networks’ storage solutions throughout the world.

The Tokyo-based company also develops its own utility-scale PV projects in Japan. Most recently, it completed a 37 MW solar array in western Japan’s Okayama prefecture. It is now developing 130 MW of solar capacity throughout the country and aims to expand its pipeline to 200 MW.