MC Retail Energy Co., Ltd. has started retailing virtual power plant (VPP)*1 services for Lawson convenience stores in Japan. The model utilizes electricity demand forecasting and remote control systems for in-store electric equipment, and utilizes Artificial Intelligence (AI) to manage and control power usage. In other words, MC Retail Energy can control the use of power by electric equipment in multiple stores remotely and in a timely manner. As an electricity retailer, MC Retail Energy can use this capacity to control the balance between electricity demand and supply to return part of the benefits to customers and reduce electricity procurement cost.
From 2016, Lawson Co., Ltd. has been working on the “Virtual Power Plant Experimental Project Using Consumer’s Energy Resources,” an initiative subsidized by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry together with Keio Research Institute at SFC. Taking advantage of the knowledge gained through this project, Lawson is collaborating as Resource Aggregator*2 with MC Retail Energy as the retailer to establish this new VPP model, in which the electricity retailer and consumer work together to control electric equipment, in this case, at Lawson stores, remotely and in a timely manner. Lawson is aiming to introduce VPP system to stores nationwide as it seeks to optimize energy usage and build an energy adjustment infrastructure that can assist with retaining demand and supply balance in electric power and stabilizing the electric power system.
Taking into consideration the diffusion of renewable energy generation businesses, the movement towards distributed energy resources, and the digitalization of electric power systems, Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) is seeking to contribute to the realization of a low-carbon society by creating a new business model that can be successful in both domestic and overseas markets. Having entered the electricity retailing for households business through the launch of MC Retail Energy in 2016, the company has been working on optimizing energy efficiency and providing highly convenient service to customers.
Going forward, MC intends to continue developing this VPP business model while creating new businesses that apply AI/IoT and Big Data to electric power systems.
MC Retail Energy will also use the opportunity of this business with Lawson to start developing VPP systems for other commercial facilities, office buildings, as well as households, among other customers.
*1: Virtual Power Plant (VPP): Serves the function of a power generating station by controlling energy resources such as the facilities of different power consumers, power generating units directly connected to electric power systems, and accumulation equipment.
*2: Resource Aggregator: A business entity which controls and manages the distributed VPP resources owned by consumers (Lawson stores in this case).