The idea behind the establishment of this division
The world population is expected to surpass 10 billion people by 2100. To solve global energy, environmental and food problems, changes to agricultural markets and industry structures will need to be predicted, and a forum to provide new value throughout the world will need to be built by leading the way with basic research at universities.
Innovative agricultural engineering based on solar matching
“Solar sharing,” in which solar panels are installed in gaps on agricultural land, is gathering interest; however, as shown in Figure 1, the effect of shadows cast by the panels on crops and the high installation costs are a few of the issues. To address these issues, we proposed “solar matching (agricultural OPV),” which allows the light necessary for crop cultivation to permeate, and which stores the remaining light in organic photovoltaic cells capable of generating power, and we demonstrated that this technology allows both crop cultivation and solar power generation. We plan to scientifically verify if this approach can be used to develop further technologies to improve crop yield in horticulture, such as in agricultural fields and in sunlight-using plant factories.
This research division aims to combine the science, engineering and pharmacology technologies of Tokyo University of Science with the agriculture-related engineering technologies of Tokyo University of Science, Suwa, to achieve both agriculture and power generation through “solar matching,” to improve agricultural productivity through the use of the Internet of Things (IoT), to provide society with “innovative agricultural engineering” such as labor-saving solutions, and to promote the development of Japanese agriculture and industry.
Members and research fields
■ Tokyo University of Science
・ Professor Kazuyuki Kuchitsu (plant physiology)
・ Professor Tatsuya Tomo (photosynthesis)
・ Associate professor Mutsumi Sugiyama
(transparent solar cells, agricultural sensors)
■ Tokyo University of Science, Suwa
・Associate professor Yasuyuki Watanabe
(agricultural solar cells, photosynthesis measurement)
・Postdoctoral Fellow Noboru Ohashi
(organic photovoltaic solar cells, plant cultivation)
・Professor Hideaki Matsue
(communication and network engineering, agricultural IoT)
・Assistant professor Kazuhiro Yamaguchi
(image and signal processing)
・Professor Takashi Matsuoka (quantum information theory)
・Associate professor Takashi Hirao (product development strategy)
■ Yatsugatake Central Agricultural Institute
・Visiting researcher Hisashi Oku (practical agriculture)
■ Kyushu University, Chihaya Adachi Laboratory
・Assistant professor Hajime Nakanotani (agricultural organic LED)
■ Ideal star inc.
・Visiting professor Kenji Omote (organic photovoltaic solar cells)
■ Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
・Visiting professor Tatsuya Shimoda (printed electronics)
Future ideas to pursue
To strengthen the research capabilities of the agricultural and food sectors, which is listed as a priority issue in the medium-term research plan of Tokyo University of Science, we are looking to both expand the scale of and commercialize industry– university collaborative projects and other initiatives.
Future Development Goals
We will develop proprietary Tokyo University of Science technologies to lead the way in deploying next-generation agricultural technologies to the global market by achieving “smart agricultural technologies capable of making electrical and agricultural production self-sufficient.”
Electricity, which is essential to human lives, is used in the form of energy and in the form of information. Plants, on the other hand, do not necessarily use electricity, but use sunlight as energy and information. In this division, we explore the methods by which humans obtain the necessary electricity, and crops simultaneously obtain the necessary light from sunlight energy, from the perspective of science and technology.
Figure 1: Schematic diagram of the Advanced Agricultural Energy Science and Technology