Mitsubishi Electric has begun testing a range of technologies designed to help people not only control their energy use but to have access to a reliable power grid that can keep the lights on even in emergencies.
The full-scale tests of smart-grid and smart-city technologies are taking place at the company’s production sites in Japan. By March 2016, Mitsubishi aims to have developed enough of such advanced systems and solutions to support annual sales of about $17 billion.
Meeting those goals will, according to Mitsubishi Electric, help promote a sustainable, low-carbon society. The tests are also focused on developing a robust energy infrastructure that can offers continuity in disasters such as this year’s Great East Japan Earthquake.
Starting in May 2010, the company began developing some $91 million in smart-grid infrastructure to support its test program. That includes systems for supply and demand management, next-generation distribution management, advanced metering and energy management.
The full-scale tests now under way will focus on four main areas:
- Demand-supply balancing to help manage large amounts of renewable energy connected to the power grid;
- Distribution network management and voltage control to prevent instability caused by large numbers of photovoltaic systems installed in buildings and residences.
- Planning for grid operating conditions as they might be by 2020, when a large volume of renewable energy is likely to be connected to the network and electricity demand will be aggregated in communities.
- Technologies for independent microgrids such as islands or regions that are only partially connected to the grid.
Tests will also aim to verify the performance of smart-grid technologies in severe conditions, such as when part of the grid might be lost because of earthquakes, lightning and other weather-related events.