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Harnessing our strengths in electric power and information technology to create smart grids that transform energy use
The increasing deployment of power systems that harness solar and other renewable energy is helping reduce carbon emissions and society's dependence on fossil fuels. But there are numerous challenges in producing electricity from these resources. Weather conditions cause dramatic fluctuations in output from solar and wind power, increasing the potential for the entire power supply system to become unstable.
Smart grids are vital for stabilizing and securing power supply system: during transmission from unstable sources of electricity or disruptions, smart grids can swiftly obtain and process output and demand data, then automatically optimize or secure the demand and supply balance. This is why there is such great worldwide interest in smart grids, although it is important to note that local transmission and distribution network requirements currently determine setups.
Japan, for example, has already completed some of the power generation and transmission stages of a smart grid. Hitachi is working on the next step, which will be the installation of a smart grid for the entire power network, encompassing residential and office buildings electricity consumption.
Advanced metering infrastructure systems: They employ information technology to automatically read meters and provide detailed assessments of each user's power consumption
We supply power grid stabilization systems and advanced metering infrastructure systems that provide detailed assessments and management of residential and office building electricity consumption so that the status of energy demand and supply can be visualized. Demand and supply are optimally balanced for renewable energy, whose output is unstable.
Expanding an advanced metering infrastructure will be the first step toward a truly smart grid and a smarter city that links homes and electric power companies through information and communications. Once in service, this infrastructure enables utilities to remotely monitor and deal with customers who relocate. Another advantage is that those companies would get the details on how much electricity residential users consume or send to the grid from their residential photovoltaic power systems. Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc. and Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. have already begun on-site assessments of advanced metering infrastructure systems. The two utilities have installed Japan's first telecommunications-equipped watthour meters at residences as part of those trials. The data that they collect should help stabilize the power grid.
Linking homes and electric power companies through an information and communications infrastructure would enable all residential users to streamline power consumption in line with generation from renewable energy sources.
Hitachi will join hands with Japan Wind Development Co., Ltd., Toyota Motor Corporation, and Panasonic Electric Works Co., Ltd., and several other companies to launch the Smart Grid Demonstration Site at Rokkasho Village in Aomori Prefecture, Japan in August 2010. Testing will include charging electric vehicles from wind and photovoltaic sources, with batteries storing surplus power. Trials will also cover residential electricity consumption.
In many countries, transmission and distribution networks are either aging or underdeveloped. Supplying networks that draw on renewable energy could significantly alleviate global warming.
We will supply advanced environmental technologies, tailoring them to local conditions and accumulating new knowledge. These priorities will be central to our involvement in a Japan-U.S. smart grid trial that will begin in New Mexico during 2010. Another project will be a collaborative initiative in China to lower that nation's reliance on carbon fuels and to foster recycling. We will inevitably need to tackle the challenges of creating international standards for technologies and will therefore participate in multigovernment and private-sector initiatives.
The involvement of all key stakeholders will be essential to realizing our smart grid concept. They include national and local governments, electric power companies, automakers, appliance manufacturers, and commercial and residential power consumers.
We will maintain open relationships with all these stakeholders while contributing to smart grid development that effectively harnesses renewable energy, such as solar and wind.
SMART grids: The global impact in 2020
The global deployment of smart grids would lower CO2 emissions an estimated 2.03 billion tonnes worldwide by 2020. That saving would represent four percent of the 51.9 billion tonnes of emissions forecast for that year.
Source: SMART 2020, published by The Climate Group
(Publishing in Julys 2010)