Electric Vehicles based Smart Grid System

Mitsubishi Corporation (MC), Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO) have agreed to collaborate on a research project being undertaken by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Acting as advisor to this project is the Tokyo Institute of Technology, which is aiming to develop Smart Grid systems that employ electric vehicles and the lithium-ion batteries used to power them.

MC, MMC and MELCO have worked on Smart Grid systems to utilize these lithium ion batteries since last March. The lithium ion batteries business is expected to increase rapidly with the increasing proliferation of electric cars. The three partners applied to NEDO to take part in the research project and were accepted on August 24th. They then signed a subsidy contract under which NEDO will bear two-thirds (2/3) of the project’s costs.

Through the project, photovoltaic systems, electric vehicles, and lithium-ion batteries recycled from electric vehicles will be installed at MMC’s electric vehicle factory in Okazaki (Nagoya Plant). The electric vehicles used by the factory workers to commute to and from work will also be involved in the project. The batteries will be recharged using the photovoltaic and grid systems, and a Factory Energy Management System (FEMS) will be developed to optimize energy use and conserve energy at the factory.

The project will also focus on developing an Electric Vehicle Integration System (EIS), which will control charge-discharge amounts and rates to minimize burden on the vehicles, as well as employ the FEMS to utilize the vehicles as batteries for supplementary energy supply.

Through their collaboration, MC, MMC, and MELCO hope to determine how the results can be used to benefit several Smart Grid projects underway in other countries, most notably in emerging economies.

Background and Specifics

Use at homes, offices, and factories of photovoltaic systems, electric vehicles, and other means of distributed power are expected to increase in the future, both in Japan and around the world. The concern, however, is that the power variation and surplus electricity from renewable energy can destabilize power grids.

NEDO’s energy management operations are invested in the stable, large-scale introduction of distributed power. The organization’s aim is to develop and verify storage technologies for this energy management at two levels, one being the electric power grids and individual points of demand which supplement power back to the grids, and the other being the larger, regional level. To achieve this aim, NEDO is promoting its joint research into comprehensive energy-storing technologies. Its specific endeavors are listed below.

1. R&D of storage battery technologies for EMS on the demand side

2. Demonstrations of EMS by using these storage battery technologies

3. Promotion of evaluation methods and standardization as a means of systematizing power distribution, with consideration also of developments in international markets.

The R&D conducted by MC, MMC, and MELCO will assess problems that may arise from the introduction of renewable energy and wide-scale use of electric vehicles. In order to address the issues confirmed through NEDO’s research activities, the partners will examine the effectiveness of installing storage batteries on the demand side, such as at homes and factories, and look into developing the necessary technologies.

PCS (Power Conditioning Subsystem):

Electric device which controls electric current, voltage and frequency of the electricity input or output.

FEMS (Factory Energy Management System):

Electric and information device controlling supply and demand between distribution system in Nagoya Plant and recycled lithium-ion batteries, photovoltaic systems and electric vehicles.

Roles of the Partners

1. Mitsubishi Corporation

Conduct research into cases of storage batteries used in smart grid configurations (V2X: Vehicle to Home, Factory, ETC) and common infrastructure systems to make V2X possible. Handle international development, with assistance from the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

2. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation

Develop V2X mainly the i-MiEV (an electric vehicle built by MMC), study information transmission from electric vehicles to make V2X possible, develop discharge function of electric vehicles, and connection standards between electric vehicles and equipment (expanding CHAdeMO standard).

3. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

Develop EMS for factories and homes, and highly-versatile information systems for electric vehicles.

Contract Period and Project Timeline

The contract period is until the end of FY 2011, while the NEDO collaborative research project will continue until the end of FY 2014. MC will disclose some research results until it receives an interim appraisal on March 31, 2011 from the NEDO joint research project. The company will continue to explore business opportunities to expand its operations internationally.