Toyota partners on smart grid demonstration in Japan

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Rokkasho, Japan — (METERING.COM) — September 17, 2010 – Toyota has partnered with JWD, Panasonic Electric Works and Hitachi to launch a two-year smart grid demonstration in Japan to explore the potential of new technologies for power generation, storage and distribution.

The project is located in the village of Rokkasho, near the northern tip of the island of Honshu. The research will, in part, demonstrate how the low emissions benefits of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids can be further supported by the use of carbon free power for recharging.

The partners have constructed an isolated grid that is CO2-free, distributing electricity produced by wind and local solar generation. As the grid is self contained, its operation can be adjusted and monitored through test scenarios that replicate different levels of supply and demand, or specific regional factors, such as remote locations or local weather patterns.

The grid supplies six “smart houses” equipped with different energy management systems and automatic metering. A “hub” battery has been built to store electricity and adjust supply to meet demand. In addition, Toyota has supplied eight Prius plug-in hybrids and vehicle charging points.

A series of experiments will test and assess the effectiveness of various ways of adjusting demand and energy management in line with the local environmental conditions in different target countries and regions around the world, including Japan, Europe and emerging nations. The aim is to develop power system supply technologies that address a range of needs, including reducing CO2, stabilizing power supply and making efficient use of renewable energy.

On the supply side, any surplus electricity generated will be stored in the hub battery and heat storage units. In the event of a power shortage, the battery will provide electricity to maintain the level required.

Different methods will be used to adjust power usage, for example by providing residents with information about how the system works and pricing. The smart houses will also be able to take part in power trading with their neighbors.

Toyota’s principal activity in the project will be to test the Toyota Smart Center (TSC) system for creating and controlling the smart houses, plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHV) control systems and energy consumption and storage. The TSC governs electricity storage in batteries and the EcoCute hot water heaters installed in the houses, taking usage patterns and supply loads into account.

The company will also test Toyota Smart Vision (TSV), a tool for visualizing electricity conditions in a community, home energy monitoring systems, smart phones, and new in-vehicle display-audio units.

The project was launched earlier this week and will continue through to July 2012.