Big things are happening in the Mile High City
The City of Denver is well known for its progressive approach to sustainable technologies and renewable energy. That’s why a partnership with Panasonic to develop and deploy solutions and technologies that will help them meet their smart and sustainability goals made perfect sense.
While Panasonic is perhaps best known for their consumer electronics products, they have long provided both public and private enterprises with technologies and solutions that enhance the experiences of their customers. They’re the world’s leading provider of infotainment systems for the automotive industry, for example, and the leader in information, entertainment and communications systems for commercial airlines. Panasonic also has a strong legacy in green and sustainable technologies. They provide the batteries for electric vehicles from Tesla and Toyota, and they design, develop and deploy energy management solutions for sports and entertainment venues, college campuses and municipalities. One prominent example is the solar array at Sonoma Raceway in California; a system that provides nearly half of the track’s energy demands.
The company’s most ambitious project to date, however, is the planning and development of a Sustainable Smart Town in Fujisawa, Japan. Built on the site of an old factory, the town is now a thriving community with renewable energy systems that can provide off-grid power for up to 3 days. It also features EV charging stations, security systems and smart home technology.
The goal for Denver is to bring a number of similar solutions to the 400 acre Transit Oriented Development project near Pena Station, as well as to Denver International Airport. Jim Doyle, President of Panasonic Eco Solutions Company, has cited the vision of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock as the principal reason for Panasonic opting to partner with the Mile High City and even relocate their Enterprise Solutions Division headquarters to Denver in 2016. Mayor Hancock has expressed his desire for the airport and Pena Station to be more than just a transit hub, but rather an ultra-modern connected community that supports citizens and businesses alike with smart, sustainable technologies and responsive infrastructure that taps into the real-time analytics made possible by big data and the Internet of Things.
One of the first initiatives that will be undertaken as a result of this partnership will be the development of a microgrid energy storage solution for the airport. The project is designed to prove the efficacy of high capacity batteries in a microgrid, and will be part of a larger initiative that includes a 1.3 Megawatt AC canopy solar installation to serve the grid and provide back-up power. The microgrid project involves a third partner, Xcel Energy, and their subsidiary, Public Service Company of Colorado. Xcel will own the installation, and Panasonic will service it.
A second initiative that is in development is the deployment of Smart LED Streetlights at the airport. These lights will be powered by solar cells, and are designed to brighten when there’s foot traffic and dim when there’s no activity as a means of conserving energy. They will also house HD security cameras to enhance commuter safety.
These projects, and those that follow, will further be supported by a Light Rail transit line that’s set to begin operation in the spring of 2016. Starting at the center of Downtown Denver and finishing at Denver airport – with 7 stops, including Pena Station and the new Panasonic Enterprise Solutions headquarters – the rail line will tie the sprawling city together, allowing the Transit Oriented Development to thrive. In 2013, Panasonic moved their North American HQ operations to Newark, NJ, alongside Newark Penn Station, which is one of the largest public transit hubs in the nation. As a result, 85% of their employees currently use mass transit rather than commuting to work by car. Prior to the move, a mere 5% of employees chose not to drive. This aspect of becoming more eco-responsible has been central to Panasonic’s strategy and part of the reason they were cited by Interbrand as the top electronics company on their recent Best Global Green Brands report.
There are also many more initiatives that are slated to move from pilot to statewide activation in the coming years. All designed to make life safer, more connected, and more sustainable for those living in the City of Denver. Panasonic is also committed to bringing these “CityNOW” solutions to communities throughout North America and beyond.