Visiting finance officials inspect Panasonic eco tech

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Nine delegates from three countries at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank checked out cutting-edge developments by one of Japan’s electronics giants Wednesday, including energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies.

Four delegates each from the Solomon Islands and Nicaragua as well as one delegate from Bolivia visited Panasonic Corp.’s global communications and technology hub in Koto Ward, Tokyo, where the firm shows off its latest technology and products.

With Panasonic putting much of its focus on environmentally friendly products and energy-saving and management solutions due to tough competition with Asian rivals in TVs and similar products, much of the 90-minute tour was related to the environment.

At the “eco ideas HOUSE,” where the firm has a model living room, kitchen and garage equipped with a full range of environmentally friendly products, Panasonic demonstrated its HEMS home energy management system.

Home appliances are connected to each other as well as energy storage devices and the system provides a graphical representation of energy consumption levels. The owner can manage the use of electricity depending on the situation, such as switching the power source from a utility to the home’s energy storage system.

The tour participants listened intently to explanations of the energy management system and observed products like a fuel cell, a lithium-ion storage battery and a home recharging stand for electric vehicles.

After the tour, they had a brief chat with Panasonic officials. They said energy and environment-related issues are priorities in their countries and are curious to know how much it costs to build a HEMS-ready house.

Alberto Guevara, governor of the Nicaraguan Central Bank, said he was impressed with the technology, but he isn’t sure when they will be introduced and become standard in his country.