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US Japan team up on Smart Grid projects

Energy partners from the U.S. and Japan will collaborate on a multimillion-dollar smart grid demonstration project on Maui in Hawaii. The project is aimed at improving integration of variable renewable energy resources and at preparing the electric system for widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

The organizations partnering on the project include the U.S. Department of Energy; the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT); the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii; Hawaiian Electric Co.; Maui Electric Co.; and Japan-based New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

NEDO will provide around $37 million to support the project. It also selected six Japanese companies to work on the project: Hitachi Ltd.; Hewlett-Packard Japan Ltd.; Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd.; Sharp Corp.; JFE Engineering Corp.; and Cyber Defense Institute Inc.

The project will include installing smart controls at the regional and neighborhood levels to improve integration of variable renewable energy resources, such as photovoltaic (PV) systems. These technologies include distributed control systems that will manage resources such as smart inverters to regulate output of PV systems, load control devices and controls to manage electric vehicle charging stations and battery storage systems. The project will also collaborate with an existing DOE-funded project by installing the same smart control systems within the project site in the Wailea area of Maui.

In addition, the project will use a charging management system to connect Maui Electric Co. system controls with charging stations island-wide. This will allow Maui Electric to manage electric vehicle charging to balance generation and load and make better use of wind and solar power.

Installation is expected in late 2012, with the project becoming operational in 2013 and running until 2015.

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