Mitsubishi to invest $76MM in smart grid technology for Japan

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation will invest a total of US $75.8 million (7 billion yen) by March 2012 in a project to build facilities within the company's production sites in Japan for experiments designed to establish advanced smart grid technologies. The project will contribute to the company's efforts to support the adoption of sustainable power supplies worldwide. 

To address global environmental issues, Japan and many other countries are promoting the production of energy from photovoltaic, wind-power and other renewable energy sources as an alternative to fossil fuels. Generating power from weather-dependent sources such as sun or wind, may impact the reliability of the power system due to the fluctuation in electricity generation. Smart grid technologies will help to integrate in the power system a large amount of renewable sources without negative effects on the stability and reliability.
Mitsubishi Electric will build experimental facilities at the company's three Japanese domestic production sites located in Amagasaki, Wakayama and Ofuna. The facilities will all be connected by a wide-area communication network and be remotely monitored. 

At the Amagasaki site, located in Hyogo Prefecture, Mitsubishi Electric will install a 4-megawatt photovoltaic system, a 500-kilowatt rechargeable battery for transmission purposes, a power system simulator, power system stabilizer, 150 smart meters, an electric vehicle charging station and other related equipment. Advance Metering Infrastructure, advanced energy management and distribution automation system, will monitor and operate the assets and equipment. The total system will be used to demonstrate the benefit of smart grid technologies in each sector of the electricity industry. 

The company will also install a 200-kilowatt photovoltaic system at its Wakayama site, located in Wakayama Prefecture, and a demonstration facility at its Ofuna site, located in Kanagawa Prefecture. To demonstrate optimal energy management in private residences, the facility in Ofuna will feature a residential photovoltaic system, appliances for all-electric homes, smart meter, home-gateway and other network-connected equipment. 

By March 2011, Mitsubishi Electric plans to equip each site with the components and build systems required for the company to begin basic experiments. By March 2012, the company plans to conduct full-fledged experiments, including analysis of power supply when electricity generated from renewable energy sources flows into power grids. Mitsubishi Electric aims to market smart grid related products and systems in the near future, and contribute to the realizing of a low carbon society. 

Future visions of Mitsubishi Electric's smart grid business 

Mitsubishi Electric's smart grid business will be carried out as a company-wide project spanning the company's five business segments. In April 2010, Mitsubishi Electric established two project teams to promote development in smart grid technology. The Power Grid Project in the Transmission & Distribution Systems Center will be responsible for smart grid electric systems and equipment. The Next Generation Energy Communication Project in the Communication Networks Center will be responsible for the smart grid communication network. 

Mitsubishi Electric's smart grid related technologies and know-how, as well as the products developed from this project are not only targeted at the Japanese market, but are also intended deployment in markets overseas. For the European market, in particular, where a large amount of electricity is expected to be generated from renewable energy sources, Mitsubishi Electric plans to utilize its findings mainly to promote its photovoltaic systems business. In regions where there is demand for the upgrade and expansion of electric infrastructure, such as China, India and North America, Mitsubishi Electric intends to focus on transmission and distribution equipment business. Meanwhile, in areas such as South-east Asia, where there is strong demand for "comprehensive smart community packages," including operation of electric infrastructure, the company will look into entering the market through participation in Japan Smart Community Alliances (JSCA).

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