News Release

UC San Diego and SANYO Pioneer Next Generation of Energy Management

sanyo news
From L to R, Frieder Seible, Dean of the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering; and Mitsuru Homma, Executive Vice President of SANYO Electric Co., Ltd., sign a $3 million solar energy research agreement.

San Diego, CA, June 4, 2010 -- The SANYO Electric Group, including SANYO North America Corporation headquartered in San Diego, Calif., (SANYO) and the University
of California, San Diego have announced a research collaboration agreement designed to lead to the next generation of solar energy systems and energy management. Under the agreement, SANYO and UC San Diego will collaborate on multi-year, multi-disciplinary projects in the areas of renewable energy and energy storage research, development and education. SANYO will contribute $3 million over three years to fund the collaborative research projects.  The agreement is the first of its kind that SANYO has made with a university in the United States in the area of energy.

SANYO is a leader in renewable energy and energy-efficient technology, with world-leading technology in solar cells, a world-leading market share of rechargeable batteries, and a long history of manufacturing energy-efficient electrical systems and equipment. SANYO has created a “Smart Energy System,” based on the “Smart Grid” concept, combining these key technologies into a system. The Smart Energy System offers an example of local power generation for local consumption (solar panels generate energy, which can be stored in local rechargeable batteries, and then used in local energy-efficient appliances). The company plans to further lead the renewable energy revolution through its partnership with UC San Diego, well known for its sustainable research and use of solar technologies.

“As one of the greenest universities in the United States, UC San Diego has become a living laboratory for sustainability and renewable energy,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. “This partnership with SANYO will further leverage the university’s energy research expertise which, in turn, will benefit industry, society and the environment.”

The research projects that will be carried out under the agreement are central to the future use of solar power, especially for states like California that will rely more on renewable energy to meet its growing energy needs. The research will build on the SANYO Smart Energy System concept, designed to improve the stability and reliability of renewable energy, and ongoing work at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering in areas such as solar forecasting, energy storage and general energy management. The targets for research projects include developing the next generation of energy solutions, focusing on minimizing emissions while offering stable, reliable renewable energy generation, storage and efficiency from small to large-scale systems.

“Today as SANYO and UC San Diego sign this agreement for research and activities to realize smart grids, each of our organizations brings unique abilities and know-how to the table to build a win-win relationship,” said Mitsuru Homma, Executive Vice President of SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. “It is our hope that through this agreement we can create a value-added system to offer the United States  as a whole, expanding the concept of a smart grid society beyond the boundaries of this campus and San Diego.”

SANYO and UC San Diego will explore various ways to combine technology through joint research, and together create an Energy Development Open (EDO) Platform to propose a number of application services using Smart Energy Systems. Through promulgating an open platform, it is anticipated that application services able to optimize the use of energy will be created, and by expanding on a global scale, can make a large contribution to the earth’s environment.

The first project in the UC San Diego-SANYO collaboration involves applying research underway at UC San Diego on solar forecasting into the Smart Energy System.  UC San Diego Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Jan Kleissl is using advanced weather stations and sky imaging tools and instruments to create hourly solar production forecasts. Such work could be used to more precisely determine when to store and when to release solar energy throughout the day.  To view a short video of one of these technologies, the Total Sky Imager, click here.

“As a leading research engineering school, we are actively engaged in working with industry and government partners on innovation here on campus," said Frieder Seible, dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.  "SANYO is a leader in smart energy systems, and we look forward to contributing with our own research to more efficient renewable energy solutions."

sanyo students
From L to R, Hiroshi Hanafusa, General Manager, Energy Solution Business Division, SANYO Electric Co., Ltd.; UCSD MBA student Tony Li; Revathi Vavra, a UCSD electrical engineering grad student; and Frieder Seible, Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering. The two UCSD students will work as SANYO interns this summer in Osaka, Japan. 
This summer, two UC San Diego students will work as interns on the SANYO Smart Energy System at the company’s Osaka, Japan headquarters.  The students will research solar forecasting, adaptive charging technologies, and customer optimization of variable battery and photovoltaic technologies.

“In order for wind and solar energy to achieve the degree of reliability required by our state, efficient energy storage methods are needed,” said Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. “The type of integrated photovoltaic and energy storage research at UC San Diego addresses one of the technological missing links California needs to develop in order to ensure reliability of solar-generated energy even when the sun doesn't shine.”

SANYO forecasts show an increasing market and demand for solar systems in the United States, as well as more policies and measures being considered and passed by the government administration directed toward solving energy and environmental issues. However, power generation is very sensitive to the balance of power supply available and the amount demanded. While solar panels offer a clean, renewable way to obtain energy, the issues of power generation loss caused by external influencers such as clouds need to be mitigated, as this type of fluctuation in power generation could adversely affect stability in the power grid. By combining solar power generation technology with lithium-ion battery systems for power storage, excess power generated can be captured to offset times when less power is generated, offering a more stable solution than previously available.


Media Contacts

Andrea Siedsma
Jacobs School of Engineering