Pike Research ranks Coulomb Technologies and Ecotality at the head of the EVSE pack in strategy and execution
Green Motion catamaran wins Mansura Medal in Offshore division

US and Japan collaborating on smart grid project in Hawaii; EV operation and charging, including grid-balancing services

Hitachi, Ltd., Cyber Defense Institute, Inc., JFE Engineering Corporation, Sharp Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Japan, Ltd., and Mizuho Corporate Bank, Ltd. have been selected as contractors for a joint US-Japan collaboration supporting a Smart Grid project on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Hitachi will coordinate the entire project, serving as the project leader.

The project is supported by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), in cooperation with the State of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., the University of Hawaii, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, whose involvement is based on the Japan-US Clean Energy Technologies Action Plan, agreed to following the Japan-US heads of state summit held in November 2009.

Hitachi Ltd. and the other five participating companies will conduct a feasibility study expected to be completed by the middle of September 2011. Based on the results of the feasibility study, the project is expected to be implemented by the end of March 2015.

On Maui, 15% of the electricity supply is already generated by renewable energy, and there are plans to increase this percentage going forward. The project goal is to verify the use of advanced technologies in a smart grid under the use of large volumes of renewable energy already in place, to contribute to smart grid standards, and to implement a low-carbon social infrastructure system that efficiently uses renewable energy on a remote island where electricity costs are relatively high.

The six participating companies will build and test a system that applies the latest technologies that will be utilized including: power distribution control; demand side load control; control-ICT platform, electric vehicles (EVs) operation and charging control; multiple type of rapid chargers; and information and telecommunications technologies. Part of the demonstration plan includes utilization of the EVs for grid-balancing services (earlier post). These technologies will be implemented to eliminate factors causing power voltage impacts in the distribution grids and fluctuations in power frequency when large volumes of renewable energy with weather-dependent tendency are added to a power grid.

Specific details of the project and the roles of participating companies are as follows:

  1. EV-based Remote Island Smart Grid Model on Maui (Hitachi, Sharp, and JFE Engineering). With the goal of eliminating the impact of output fluctuations from renewable energy on power frequencies, the participating companies will establish an EV Energy Control Center to create a smart grid on an island without alternative energy source from other grids that is based on the a close coming society with EVs large penetration.

    They will facilitate comprehensive energy management for the EVs by linking a Distribution Management System (DMS) to be established in the Kihei district of the island, and an Energy Management System (EMS), which will control the demand-supply balance in the power grid of Maui Electric Company, Ltd. The companies will demonstrate the stimulation and inducement of demand for charging EVs that use car navigation systems, PCs, smartphones, and so forth, as well as charging status monitoring, automatic adjustment of charging starting times, and absorption of surplus efficient renewable energy.

    In addition, various types of rapid chargers will be installed, including flexible power supply type, photovoltaic DC to DC power supply type and DC power supply type with battery power at EV charging stations. They will demonstrate their effectiveness at controlling EV chargers so they do not overload distribution facilities. Moreover, they will conduct simulated evaluating the impact that a large volume of EVs have on distribution networks by installing fixed storage batteries and charging and discharging them.

  2. Smart Grid Model at a Substation with One Distribution Grid Level in Kihei (Hitachi). Hitachi will demonstrate power grid operational stability to address issues such as power voltage, surplus electricity and frequency fluctuations from renewable energy using and cooperative-controlling EMS, DMS and micro-DMS that control the balance of supply and demand in a power grid. The goal of this demonstration is to solve various issues, including voltage issues related to reverse power flow that stem from photovoltaic solar power generation linked with distribution system terminals and excess load on low-voltage transformers when multiple EVs are charged at the same time.

  3. Smart Grid Project for Low-voltage Transformer Level Systems (Hitachi). Hitachi will demonstrate the control to reduce the possibility of the problems which arise by connecting micro-DMS, smart power conditioners and DMS demand response functions that address issues related to voltage at the low-voltage transformer level. Typically, it is possible that these problems arise due to an increase in photovoltaic solar power generation in homes and disruption of outdoor powerline to houses resulting from excess load that is caused by a large increase in power demand from EV rechargers and electric water heaters.

    The goal of this demonstration is to solve various issues, including voltage issues related to reverse power flow stemming from photovoltaic solar power generation that is linked with terminals on the distribution grids, and excess load on low-voltage transformers when multiple EVs are charged at the same time under EV large penetration.

The participating companies will analyze the results of the project.

  1. Analysis and evaluation of results from smart grid demonstration (6 companies). In order to promote the establishment of an optimal smart grid model for islands without alternative energy source from other grids, the participating companies will create a US-Japan Joint Evaluation Committee, which will work together, utilizing best practices developed from the project along with other demonstration projects being conducted by US companies in the Wailea distinct of Maui. The committee will also discuss international standards.

  2. Evaluation of cyber security (Hitachi, HP Japan, and Cyber Defense Institute). The three companies concerned will evaluate whether the Project meets cyber security standards in the US.

  3. Evaluation of the economic viability of the system (Mizuho Corporate Bank). Mizuho Corporate Bank will use experts to evaluate the economic viability of the system that is created.

  4. Creation and verification of a cutting-edge low-carbon social infrastructure system business model on a remote island (Hitachi, Mizuho Corporate Bank). In order to develop businesses in other regions, Hitachi and Mizuho Corporate Bank will create and evaluate a highly feasible and practical business model based on the results of the Project.

Cooperative companies will also support the project:

  • The Okinawa Electric Power Company, Incorporated : Advisor for power grid technology on remote island
  • Advanced Energy Company: Advisor for EV charger business
  • Nissan Motor Co.: Adviser for EV telematics adaptation to the project and EV charging and discharging technology
  • Verizon: Advisor on communications solutions and network technology and services



Let's talk about security. Since this JV addresses "cyber-security" and energy integrity - which is the point of a "smart grid."

1) Consider an energy system built around century old mechanical lossy distribution via miles of high voltage wire strung above and below ground.

2) Consider the single central power plant (85% fossil) source distributed via "smart" grid.

3) The grid - smart or conventional - consists of hundreds of high voltage towers strung with miles of exposed cable across sensitive landscape. Locally thousands of power poles, miles of wire, transformers, breaker boxes, switches and power conditioning hardware deliver electricity to customers.

This ENTIRE system is an easily targeted jugular vein. You could hardly design a more vulnerable, easily disrupted system if you tried. Add the new "smart" DMS EMS silicon and software and what is highly vulnerable is doubly vulnerable. The more complex a system the more prone to vulnerability, attack, internal and external failure & accelerating maintenance costs.

Conclusion: "Smart Grids" while appearing to be wiz-bang technological marvels - expose energy production and distribution to higher levels of security vulnerability than ever before.

This project may be of use in designing the future micro-grids that will provide secure backup and UPS services to distributed energy residences and light industry. Independent, distributed energy appliances in homes and businesses guarantee the highest level of security and reliability possible in a national power system.

Why is there HUGE resistance to this?

Top 10 Oil producing companies in the world:
1. Royal Dutch Shell
2. BP
3. Gazprom
4. ExxonMobil
5. Petrobras
6. Total
7. PetroChina
8. Chevron
9. ENI
10. ConocoPhillips
11. Sinopec

And large utilities that do not see the vast business potential in distributed energy systems.


The future may very well have room for distributed and centralized systems joined together with a smart grid. There is nothing wrong or impossible with a multitude of small distributed production units, local storage units, V2G, etc co-existing with centralized larger more efficient production units. Reliability, availability and security will be enhanced with a wider mix.


Harvey I see no reason why the industrial and government sectors should not continue to use the old grid. It can be smartened up to smooth the alternative intermittent operations.

But in order to limit the need for new power plants, we must incorporate distributed CCHP type systems in the residential and light business sectors. There is a huge energy gain to be had from producing electricity, heat and hot water in a typical single or multi-family residence. It's good for the environment, economy and footprint of home owners. Win, win, win.


I was hoping for fuel cell CHP systems for the home years ago. GE said that they were interested. People replacing hot water heaters and furnaces would just put one in and save money.

Hawaii can make their own SNG from all the biomass they have. It does not make sense on the mainland where natural gas is cheap, but out on the islands there is NO natural gas, yet they have a need for it.


Reel$$....local e-energy production is OK as long as it is cleanly produced and shared with neighbors or stored for rainy days.

Some king of power sharing grid will be required for many more decades. It may as well be smarter grids. Underground cables should be the norm.


In our quest to maximize individual consumption we have forgotten to share. We all want our own private transportation system, our own energy generation system, our own data storage units, our own Lan system, our own cinema, 1001 rarely used tools, our own harem etc. Its about time we start sharing things that we have no full time use for. That's what an e-energy network or power grid, gas pipelines, water/sewage systems, trains, buses, large air planes etc etc are all about.


It is sometimes referred to as the "commons", shared resources. I guess some people just don't want to be common. Bush said the terrorists "hate our way of life", when you use much more energy and resources than others of similar output...well.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)