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October 3, 2011

Sony to participate in the “Pecan Street Smart Grid Demonstration Project,”
a US smart grid demonstration experiment

Sony today announced it has joined the “Pecan Street Smart Grid Demonstration Project.” As a participating company in this smart grid demonstration experiment built around home applications and consumer electronics, Sony is evaluating and developing Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) that enable continual use of energy for practical and experimental uses.

Smart grid approach involves connecting smart meters (next-generation electricity meters), such as those installed in households, to a network. This provides a real time picture of electricity demand, thus optimizing the supply and usage of electricity. The main objectives of this approach are to make the production and supply of electricity more efficient. In an aim to create end-user benefits, Sony decided to participate in the Pecan Street Smart Grid Demonstration Project, which places a strong emphasis on producing benefits to end-users.

Overview of the smart grid demonstration experiment

  • To investigate new technologies to achieve lower HEMS costs
    Implementation of HEMS systems will be easier, as it will become possible to measure the electricity consumed by main devices within the household, simply by measuring the current waveforms from a single main wiring location on the power distribution board. Previously, such detailed measurements would have required installation of separate devices to monitor each individual power distribution board or piece of equipment.
  • To provide added value utilizing the Sony Group's CE devices and entertainment services
    For the purposes of this experiment, Sony plans to deploy an Internet-connection set-top box in all participating homes. This will allow all households to easily view their energy management on the portal site from their living room TV at any given time, thereby enabling everyone to participate in the system. Sony is also considering the addition of other services, such as distribution of games and other free content so that end-users can enjoy accessing the site. The development of a structure that will enable HEMS to be operated with minimum financial burden to the customer in the future will also be considered by incorporating business models such as advertising material.
  • To investigate the efficiency of energy-saving management while maintaining a good quality of life
    Sony plans to build a system that is mutually beneficial for the customer and the electricity supplier. This can be achieved by using the independently-developed electricity demand predictive technology to anticipate which periods will attract peak demand or surplus supplies of electricity. This information can then be used to charge up batteries or EVs during periods of surplus supply, or to switch to battery power during peak demand periods, minimizing the overall load on the electrical power grids. A thermostat that can be controlled via the network are also planned to be installed in all households. This will enable the air conditioning to be adjusted to a comfortable level during peak demand periods, in a manner that will not inconvenience the user. In some households, energy storage units developed by Sony are to be used for balancing electric power consumption during peak hours of power consumption.
  • Open platform
    Sony will investigate whether use of this open technology can enable an environment to be created in which third-party vendors could offer other solutions based on the electricity consumption data collected from households by Sony, while continuing to maintain security and privacy. Specifically, open future technologies such as ‘Smart Energy Profile’ are used for applications such as controlling consumer electronics devices in the home. Furthermore, Sony is considering building a database that would enable third-party vendors to provide information-sharing applications by using APIs to securely extract data about consumed electricity from external sources (conditional upon being granted permission by the users) without the need to separately install electricity meters.

Location of the experiment

Austin, Texas, USA

Duration of the experiment

Two years from March, 2012 (up to a maximum of 5 years)

Number of eligible households in the experiment

Maximum 500 households

Sony will use this experiment to assist it in developing the ideal smart grid business model, which will be pleasing to customers while allowing them to be responsible environmental citizens.

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