Takashi Sasaki,
Chief Technology Executive
Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation

I have just assumed the important position of the 96th head of the Power and Energy Systems Division to succeed the 95th head, Prof. Okamoto of the University of Tokyo. In cooperation with the vice-head, Dr. Inumaru of the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, and members of related committees as well, I would like to enrich and provide the contents of the division activities so that we can actively contribute to society.

Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions started as countermeasures against global warming in 1992 when the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted. Through the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2016, movements toward a low-carbon society have accelerated throughout the world. We can see these movements firsthand through industries familiar to us. For example, a shift to natural gas fuel that emits less CO2, which is the movement toward non-coal thermal power, has progressed, and this trend has been engaged by the various anti-coal financing policies in the US and European countries as well as the recent decrease in the price of natural gas. Furthermore, renewable energy has been boosted by both political movements in several countries and demand from the general public, and also by the significant decrease in the prices of solar cells and windmills, and consequently, their widespread use has already been realized. For example, it is still a vivid memory that an advanced natural gas-fired thermal power plant with high efficiency was forced to shut down in Europe because of this trend. Such forthcoming significant changes in the power-supply portfolio have been presenting various technological issues which include not only the demand for higher efficiency and introduction of renewable energy, but also consideration of a supply balance between distributed power and main power, stabilization of grid networks, in particular the effective control of unstable renewable energy, which is affected by weather conditions, with the use of batteries and so on.

Meanwhile, waves of digitalization represented by AI and IoT have been rolling in and causing significant changes in our society. Stories of bitcoins are familiar in the newspapers, and at home, smart speakers and AI dogs have already started gaining a market position. The world of power and energy which our division handles is not an exception. I believe that the waves of digitalization, such as energy management using virtual power plants (VPPs), stabilization of the grid, optimal control of the power plant with the best use of digital twin technology, energy-aggregation technology targeting various size regions and so on, will significantly contribute to the solutions to the various technical issues related to decarbonization. And, in the field of our Power and Energy Systems Division, these situations, along with changes in the social environment such as deregulations, will keep on providing new research elements for the academia and new business opportunities for the industrial world.

As you already know, Power and Energy Systems Division is an extremely unique entity in JSME in the sense that the academia and the industrial world are mixed in a well-balanced manner. Because our activity is not limited to one specific technical field, I believe we can make significant contribution to many fields from a variety of perspectives. Therefore, with the background of the aforementioned significant changes, the importance of our division in JSME will continue to increase in the future. In this drastically changing energy environment, in other words, in the movement of low-carbon society and digitalization, I would like to enhance the social contribution of Power and Energy Systems Division in cooperation with you.