Operations on the demonstration site for the Japan-U.S. Island Grid Project on Maui Island, Hawaii have now commenced, project leader Hitachi announced just before Christmas.

The goal of the project is to demonstrate smart grid technologies that will enable the efficient use of renewable energy and will contribute to the implementation of a low carbon social infrastructure system in island regions. The demonstration site has been designed to respond to the rapidly changing demands in the renewable energy market, through the use of electric vehicles (EV) and other innovative technologies.

The demonstration site is scheduled to be in operation through the end of March 2015. Based on the results of analysis and evaluations, the goal is to build a business model for future “island smart grids” that will be built in other sub-tropical regions with environmental conditions similar to Maui.

According to Maui Electric Company, in 2012, renewable energy accounted for 21% of the total energy supply on the island, and current plans call for at least 40% of increased demand for electrical power throughout the entire state of Hawaii to be met with the use of renewable energy by 2030.

The Japan-U.S. Island Grid Project (JUMPSmartMaui project) was initiated in 2011 by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to resolve issues related to the growing use of renewable energy sources. Hitachi is overseeing all aspects of project activities. Other participants include Mizuho Bank and the Cyber Defense Institute from Japan, and on the U.S. side, the state of Hawaii, the County of Maui, Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc., the University of Hawaii, and the American national research laboratories.

In order to create a smart grid for island regions using EV, Hitachi has established an EV energy control center (EVECC), and has already put in place a distribution management system (DMS) to control power distribution systems in the Kihei district on the south side of Maui, and the energy management system-plus (EMS-Plus). The goal is to control the balance of supply and demand in electric power systems and support the efficient operations of renewable energy. These systems also incorporate the direct load control (DLC) technology for the direct control of devices in users’ homes, which was introduced in order to minimize the effects of fluctuations in the supply of renewable energy.

Overview of Japan-U.S. Island Grid Project demonstration
Overview of Japan-U.S. Island Grid Project demonstration

Up until now, Hitachi has involved the public to be part of the demonstration on a volunteer basis and participate in the demonstrations primarily focused on the EV users on Maui. Also, regular residents/consumers interested in participating in control demonstrations for electric water heaters installed in private residences in the Kihei area will also be involved in the demonstration.

To date, Hitachi has confirmed approximately 150 volunteers as users of EVs, and confirmed approximately 40 residential households interested in participating in control demonstration using electric water heaters. Already, 20 EV charging stands have been installed at five existing rapid EV charging stations, and there are plans to establish a total of 20 charging stations in the future.

On-site demonstrations will use wind power generation systems and power systems installed on Maui, which generate a total of 72,000 kW of power. These power systems leverage information technologies to demonstrate controls for the power distribution systems and the load on the consumer side, as well as systems for controlling EV operations and charging, including various types of rapid charging devices.