Information Bulletin No.95

Solar Batteries to Power Vending Machines

March 29, 1996

Practical trials will begin in spring for the use of solar batteries as a supplementary power supply for vending machines selling canned and bottled beverages. The Environment Agency will cooperate with battery, vending machine, and drink manufacturers to popularize the use of solar batteries as a measure to combat global warming and save energy.
On the basis of trial results, the aim is to introduce solar batteries on 10%, or 190,000, of existing drink vending machines around the country.

A Refrigerator Left Out in the Sun
Vending machines are more common in Japan than in any other country, perhaps as a reflection of the high level of public safety enjoyed here. Correspondingly, energy consumption of these machines is also high. This is especially true for vending machines selling cold drinks; in the summer, the machines are like refrigerators that are left outdoors under the burning sun. A single such machine consumes 3,500 kilowatts of electricity per year, exceeding the average household consumption of around 3,100 kilowatts.
Approximately 1.9 million vending machines for beverages are currently in operation across Japan, the majority of which are located outdoors. Therefore if solar batteries can be used to supply power to these machines, this will curtail electricity use and help combat global warming. Mass production can also be expected to bring down the cost of solar batteries.

Installation Costs Covered by Savings
Two kinds of practical trials will be employed. First, where a number of machines are located adjacent to a building, solar cells will be placed separately on such places as the roof of the building. Where a machine stands alone, a removable battery will be attached directly to the upper part of the machine. Trials will be carried out with 100 machines to check for any technical and other problems.
Battery and vending machine manufacturers will cooperate by proving batteries and alteration work at cost, respectively, with additional assistance coming from the Environment Agency. At the same time, manufacturers will begin preparing for mass production, and beverage manufacturers will select suitable sites for the experiment.
Batteries to be placed separately on the machines will cost over 80,000 yen (755 dollars at 106 yen to the dollar) per machine, including installation and maintenance costs, but preliminary estimates suggest that if the batteries are maintained for their full life of 24 years, the amount saved in reduced electricity over that time will more than adequately pay for this expense.

(The above article, edited by Japan Echo Inc., is based on domestic Japanese news sources. It is offered for reference purposes and does not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.)