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The Northeast blackout of August 2003 dealt a heavy economic blow to the United States. (New York City)
Electricity is a vital lifeline that supports virtually all economic activities and has become essential to the lives of people in modern society. With the urbanization and growing populations of emerging countries, global demand for electricity is expected to continue rising.
In energy-dependent modern societies, any stoppage in the electricity supply can halt the functioning of much of our social infrastructure, including medical, transportation, and government services. Problems in recent years include the aging and degradation of electric grid facilities in developed countries and the ongoing chronic power shortages in emerging countries. In all parts of the world, the effects of small-scale transmission failures can give rise to stoppages that affect electric power plants over wider areas. Infrastructure maintenance and development for the transmission and distribution of electricity, as well as for generation itself, are urgent tasks for a stable supply of power.
Increasing carbon emissions with global economic development are also a concern as global warming progresses. Serious problems resulting from this atmospheric warming include torrential rainfall, cold spells and other abnormal weather patterns, rising sea levels, floods, and food shortages. To slow the progress of global warming, there are calls to limit the use of energy obtained from the fossil fuels that are a source of carbon emissions and to expand the use of renewable energy produced by wind and solar power. One of the drawbacks of these types of renewable energy, however, is the large variability in energy produced depending on weather conditions. Introduction of this energy on a large scale, which may cause fluctuations in power output, will require solutions to overcome the issue of power grid instability.
In balancing the needs for a smaller environmental burden and a stable electricity supply, both more widespread use of renewable sources for power generation and development of an infrastructure for stable transmission and distribution are essential for the energy infrastructure that supplies electricity.
However, energy infrastructure circumstances differ by country and region. In emerging countries, building infrastructure to provide a stable electricity supply is the main issue in meeting the growing demand for electric power. As energy infrastructure expands, the need for greater use of renewable energy is also growing in response to concerns about air pollution and global warming. In the United States and some European countries, which are pushing energy market liberalization, challenges include dealing with aging social infrastructure and maintaining a stable electricity supply as more renewable energy comes on line. In Japan, where electricity system reform is underway, the accelerating use of renewable energy is bringing about growing needs for grid stabilization and energy storage solutions.
Resolution of these various issues requires understanding of the problems faced by societies and customers, as well as collaboration with customers to find solutions. Hitachi provides total energy solutions for a stable electricity supply while meeting various needs by taking advantage of its wide-ranging experience and technologies in the energy field, from generation to transmission, storage, distribution, and energy management.
One such area is wide-area grid stability solutions. The effects of power outages in modern societies are immeasurable. Preventing large-scale outages and providing a stable supply of electricity requires the development of grids with robust transmission and distribution capabilities. Hitachi provides solutions using the latest IT while responding to the different usage conditions in each part of the world.
The introduction of renewable energy on a large scale will be an essential part of next-generation, sustainable energy infrastructure that supports comfortable, convenient lives. The massive earthquake that struck northeastern Japan in 2011 highlighted problems in the nation's energy supply and led to calls for the introduction of more autonomous, decentralized energy systems. These systems would utilize more renewable energy for greater resistance to disasters and have smaller environmental impacts. Hitachi is working to develop basic technology to improve the reliability and competitiveness of wind and solar power generation. We are trying to make renewable energy more commercially viable, starting with the world's first floating offshore wind farm. Other efforts are in the areas of energy storage solutions to maintain the power supply-demand balance when renewable energy is introduced on a large scale and "smart grids," next-generation power supply networks that use IT to control the amount of demand on a system to match the power generated.
Since Hitachi's foundation, the company has contributed to constructing energy infrastructure in countries worldwide, with exports to 67 countries and deployment of energy solutions businesses in North America, Europe, and elsewhere.
Power generation systems using renewable energy sources like wind and solar have been spreading in recent years. With renewable energy, however, the power output fluctuates depending on weather and other conditions, and disturbances in voltage, current, and frequency can affect entire power systems, decreasing the quality of electricity or leading to major blackouts. Balancing supply and demand, such as the need to limit generation during times with little demand, is therefore essential. Energy storage systems are eyed as one solution to overcome this issue. Hitachi has a strong record in producing energy storage system devices and many types of battery—for general consumers, industry, and automobiles—and is conducting wide-ranging efforts for better energy storage solutions, from research and development to construction, installation, maintenance, and operation of its CrystEna*1 storage systems.
The United States has taken steps to increase the use of renewable energy by opening the power transmission networks and liberalizing electricity retailing, and its wind and solar power generation are among the top in the world. With the growing adoption of renewable energy, however, there is concern about instability in the electricity supply. This has given rise to business opportunities in ancillary services (system operation services provided by power system operators to maintain the quality of electric power) as a market, in which the adjusting capacity for stabilizing electric power itself can be traded.
Hitachi has developed an all-in-one package system to help stabilize power systems by storing large amounts of electricity. A demonstration project was begun in New Jersey in February 2015. It is the result of basic research in energy storage systems over many years. It contains about 1,600 lithium-ion batteries capable of high power discharge and more than 8,000 charge/discharge cycles. It is a complete system that includes a control unit, power conditioning, and other systems all in one 40-foot container. The container format helps to minimize installation work, setup time, and costs. It also means that a large system can be configured by installing a number of units in tandem.
Hitachi has also developed a simulator that can predict battery life, using this to estimate a service life of 10 years for this system. Full safety measures also include disconnection in the event of an emergency and an automatic fire-fighting system. In a demonstration experiment, energy storage was shown to be useful in stabilizing power systems by rapidly adjusting input and output in a matter of seconds in response to frequency and voltage change signals, which vary over short time periods. Further verification results will be used in developing batteries that are more compact, less expensive, and longer-lasting.
The 1-MW container-type energy storage system comes in a standard 40-foot container form.
On Izu Oshima and other islands in Japan, electricity is supplied by independent systems powered mainly by diesel generators. In such places, early adoption of wind and solar power generation is seen as a way to reduce fuel costs for this independent energy supply.
Hitachi has developed one promising means to achieve a stable electricity supply with the use of surplus power from renewable energy: its large, 1.5-MW hybrid energy storage system combining high input/output, long-life lead-acid batteries with lithium-ion capacitors that are useful in suppressing short-period voltage and frequency fluctuations. Energy storage systems connected to energy infrastructure need to have long lives and be durable, reliable, and inexpensive. This large hybrid energy storage system incorporates major technological achievements, such as improved battery characteristics (a 1.7-fold increase in input and output currents compared with Hitachi's conventional batteries) and an anticipated extension of battery life to 20 years. It was connected to the Izu Oshima power system in 2015 to test its peak shift response, ability to suppress short-period fluctuations, and service life.
Other advanced technologies will be introduced at the same time, including a system to simulate the effects when renewable energy is introduced and the best system composition for stability. Efforts are also underway to make the system suitable for islands by using remote monitoring to improve operation and maintenance.
Lightning strikes on power lines and other accidents can cause instantaneous voltage drop, leading to power swings that cause fluctuations in voltage or current. If such swings continue, the effects can extend to wider areas and in some cases result in major blackouts. Renewable wind or solar energy is susceptible to changes in output due to the weather, and voltage, current, and frequency disturbances can decrease the quality of electricity or cause major blackouts. Hitachi provides total solutions for stable power transmission, from energy generation, transmission, and distribution equipment to control systems utilizing IT, including monitoring control and grid stabilization.
For more stable grids, improvements in electricity quality need to be achieved by constant monitoring and control of electric flow during transmission. Since 2012 Hitachi has been conducting joint research with the US Department of Energy's Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) on a grid stabilization system that can adapt to the increasing use of renewable energy. A demonstration project for the new system for grid control to prevent major outages was started in October 2014.
Grid status has been monitored in the past by supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, but these systems can measure only voltage and current, not phasors. The present system adopts phasor measurement units (PMUs), which are coming into widespread use in the United States. With real-time collection and analysis of information on phase in addition to voltage and current, this system makes it possible to formulate measures to prevent major power outages. Although PMUs are currently spreading worldwide, their use is limited to grid status monitoring. Hitachi is also combining grid analysis technology and IT with the aim of developing a new, integrated stabilization system that overcomes issues in grid operation.
Generated electricity, including from wind, solar, and other renewables, is transmitted to substations via the grid and distributed to homes and businesses. Hitachi is using its technology and experience to design and construct systems that stabilize the entire grid, from generation through transmission and distribution.
Poland is increasing its wind power generation capacity to meet its ambitious targets of supplying 15% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and 19% by 2030. At the same time, the country must deal with aging infrastructure, more than half of which was built more than 40 years ago. Upgrading and enhancing energy infrastructure equipment will require major capital investment and will impose significant management challenges. To accelerate the use of renewable energy while minimizing capital investment, there is growing interest in stabilization technology that can maintain reliable grid operation.
Hitachi has been selected by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) as a partner in a smart grid demonstration project, which is one of NEDO's demonstration projects of international energy consumption efficiency technology and systems, in Poland. By building on the grid stabilization technology that Hitachi has developed over the years, implementing new control techniques for the real-time curtailment of wind power output and energy storage systems, the company aims to create grid stabilization systems for Poland that will help expand the country's use of renewable energy, minimize its capital investment in energy infrastructure, and maintain stability in its grid operations.
There is growing interest in renewable energy as a way to contribute to the prevention of global warming. Among the different types of renewable energy, wind power generation is now reaching output and cost levels that are on a par with conventional power generation using fossil fuels and nuclear power. These systems are growing in size and sophistication worldwide.
Hitachi developed a 2-MW downwind turbine for use in Japan's demanding conditions, such as typhoon gusts and wind turbulence in its mountainous regions. Hitachi's HTW2.0-80, a 2-MW wind power generation system, has been installed at many sites and maintains a top share in Japan. We are also participating in offshore floating wind farm demonstration projects sponsored by agencies including the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry and the Ministry of the Environment. The first seven fixed-base offshore wind turbines built in Japan commenced operation in 2010, with an additional eight turbines added in 2013.
With this experience, Hitachi has developed a 5-MW offshore wind turbine with downwind rotor, the HTW5.0-126. Japan is surrounded by large areas of ocean; therefore, there is much greater potential for wind power generation than on land. Offshore wind power generation has few restrictions with respect to siting, scenery effects, and noise, but compared with land-based facilities, construction and operation costs are higher and maintenance is difficult. This makes it necessary to develop offshore wind power generation systems with high output per unit and high reliability.
The HTW5.0-126, which has recently been completed, meets needs for larger turbines for the offshore wind farms expected to be built in the future. Compared with our previous 2-MW offering, this wind power generation system has a rated output of 5-MW, about 2.5 times higher, and rotor diameter of 126 meters, about 1.5 times greater than the previous system's dimensions. The HTW5.0-126 system uses a unique configuration developed by Hitachi with the rotor located on the downwind side of the tower. In this configuration, the rotor is maintained in an orientation that does not receive crosswinds during heavy storms—even the typhoons that frequently affect Japan—thus serving to reduce the wind load. Moreover, with a new combination of a permanent magnet synchronous generator and a medium-speed gearbox, Hitachi decreased the weight and size of the entire system with respect to output and improved reliability. It is also expected to provide better safety and reduced costs of installing the seabed foundations or floating platforms.
Hitachi will continue to build our business in the growing wind energy field, thereby contributing to the creation of a low-carbon society.
As renewable energy comes into greater use worldwide, a growing number of power generation facilities are located in land areas or on the sea far from the cities in the demand area. To secure stable power transmission over long distances, wide-area grid stability solutions are essential. There is also a need to maintain the electricity supply even when generation systems go down due to natural disasters or other causes by interconnecting grids over a large area.
In many countries, grid operators are pursuing more robust wide-area interconnection with the aims of energy market liberalization and greater reliability. High-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems are being looked at as a stabilization solution for long-distance transmission and wide-area interconnection. These are systems for transmitting electricity between two different grids. Electricity is converted to direct current before transmission, reducing electricity losses, facility sizes, and construction costs. This approach is also applicable to systems that cannot be connected directly with alternating current because of different frequencies. Hitachi has participated in all HVDC projects in Japan, contributing to the stabilization of the nation's grids.
With growing needs for HVDC in the Japanese market, Hitachi formed a joint venture with Swiss company ABB, a leading power and automation group, in December 2014, and signed a formal contract in June 2015 to provide new technology in a timely manner. Hitachi will provide ABB's latest technology to HVDC projects on which Hitachi is the prime contractor, taking full responsibility for all aspects of direct current (DC) systems, from design to engineering and equipment supply as well as after-sales service. The intention is to contribute to wide-area electric power distribution networks in Japan by combining Hitachi's sales network, project management know-how, and quality assurance processes with leading-edge HVDC technology and system integration capability from ABB.
Many parts of the world remain without electricity. So that all people can enjoy the richer life supported by power systems, Hitachi seeks to bring electricity to all parts of the world with one-stop solutions addressing issues from transmission to transformation and distribution. We will contribute to the stable supply of electricity with social innovation based on infrastructure that utilizes the latest IT, increasing the reliability of power transmission and distribution.