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Zero Disasters with Solar Power Generation System Equipped with Snow Melting Function! Contributes to Safe and Secure Living in Regions with Heavy Snow!Kankyo System Yamano Co.,Ltd

2018.08.14

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The entire roof is covered by combining two types of solar cells (monocrystalline photovoltaic power generation panels and amorphous power generation sheets)

Points to be noted

  • Products designed specifically for regions with heavy snow fall.
  • Drawbacks of solar cells are overcome by combining two types of solar cells

Approximately 50% area in Japan (190,000 km2) is designated as “Area with heavy snowfall”. Managing the snow is a very big issue for people living in the areas of heavy snowfall. There are many accidents caused by snow, and many people die or get injured every year due to fall accidents while trying to remove snow from the roofs. People also get trapped under snow that falls off from the roofs.

On the other hand, in addition to casualties, effort required to remove snow also results in significant economic losses. The population is showing a significant drop in the heavy snowfall areas compared to the national average. The aging rate is also high, and depopulation is progressing. Declining population of the youth that bears the responsibility of snow clearing is also a big issue.
“Solar Power Generation System Equipped with Snow Melting Function” developed by Environmental System Yamano Co., Ltd., is a product that solves the specific problems of regions with heavy snowfall.

Though photovoltaic power generation systems have been set up all over Japan, they are not popular in the regions with heavy snowfall. The main reasons are snowfall, lack of sunshine in winter due to which power generation is less, and insufficient strength of the equipment to withstand the weight of snow. To suit this type of environment in the regions with heavy snowfall, two types of solar cells (monocrystalline photovoltaic power generation panels and amorphous power generation sheets) have been combined in “Solar Power Generation System Equipped with Snow Melting Function” to generate power. This equipment melts snow on the solar power generation panels reducing the effort required to remove snow and extending the duration for which power can be generated. The equipment was patented in 2003.

Though monocrystalline photovoltaic power generation panels (monocrystalline silicon solar cells) can generate large amounts of electricity, they require intense sunlight for power generation, and this limits the locations where they can be installed. On the other hand, though amorphous power generation sheets (sheet type amorphous silicon solar cells) generates less electricity than monocrystalline photovoltaic power generation panels, it can generate electricity even with weak light, and its sheet shape enables installation in almost any location. By installing solar cells with different properties at different locations such as monocrystalline photovoltaic panels on the south side and amorphous power generation sheets on the north side of the roofs, power generation efficiency can be increased while covering the entire roof.

We also developed a device to automatically heat the solar panels immediately after snowfall. In addition to the technology that generates heat at around 40°C by passing current in the opposite direction to the panels that are normally power generation sources, the product is shaped for easy spreading of snow and equipped with a snowfall sensor. The equipment has an energy saving structure wherein the snowmelt control system operates when the sensor detects snowfall and half the panels generate heat, and once snow on the heated panels melts, panels on the opposite side are heated after a certain time.

Since the equipment starts to operate and generate heat immediately on detecting snowfall, the snow can be melted before there is any pile up. Therefore, the electricity used for melting the snow is less than the annual electricity generated by the equipment, and one of the advantages of it is that there is no running cost involved. Electricity not used to melt the snow can be used for domestic electric power requirements, and revenues can also be expected by selling the surplus electricity. Since 2014, we have been conducting demonstration tests along with the Fukushima Renewable Energy Research Institute (Koriyama city in the same prefecture) of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology to verify that the snow melting function provided on the surface of the panels does not have any impact on the performance during good weather and that power consumption is significantly reduced.

System installation in Kitakata city, Fukushima prefecture. Snow does not accumulate on the roof in the parts covered with “Solar Power Generation System Equipped with Snow Melting Function”.

Environmental System Yamano Co., Ltd. is now looking for partners such as construction shops and dealers to expand its product “Solar Power Generation System Equipped with Snow Melting Function”. By popularizing “Solar Power Generation System Equipped with Snow Melting Function” as a photovoltaic power generation system for areas with snowfall, we expect that it will help to stop the trend of aging society and depopulation in these regions.

■What is “Solar power generation system equipped with snow melting function”?
www.k-s-y.co.jp/product

Interview Date: July 2, 2018

 

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For the elimination of fatal accidents by falls during snow removal operations from roofs, and troubles with neighborhood by falling snow, we have allowed full roof-covering snow melting, thereby allowing the running cost for snow melting to be reduced to 0, and succeeded in, in combination with a photovoltaic function, the development of a system that compensates even for home electric power used, and achieved non-man-powered snow removal operation, thereby making contributions to secure and safe societies for living environments in snow-covered areas.

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