Nissan testing energy control system using green power, EV batteries in Namie town

Photo (1): Artist's sketch of EV-based energy management system under experiment in Namie Photo (2): EVs being recharged by battery charging and discharging system installed at roadside station Namie

Nissan Motor Co. has kicked off an experiment in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Namie to verify an energy management system based on electric vehicle (EV) batteries for efficient use of power generated by renewable energy. It is the world's first such test in a real community, according to the major automaker. Nissan's plan, unveiled on Jan. 12, calls for the experiment at the town's "Michi no eki (roadside station) Namie" to continue until the end of February in cooperation with the town office. The project is intended to promote the local consumption of locally produced clean energy to help realize a "zero carbon" society, in which no carbon dioxide is emitted in effect -- a carbon neutrality target the Japanese government is seeking to achieve by 2050. Power generation by renewable energy is heavily influenced by meteorological conditions. It is difficult to strike a balance between supply and demand, with such green power occasionally ending up in the garbage before it is put to use. But Nissan's charging and discharging management system, equipped with artificial intelligence, seeks to ensure efficient energy use and stabilize power supply by combining electricity generated by solar energy, wind power and hydrogen-based fuel cells at the roadside station with the batteries of five units of the EV model LEAF used by the town office as official cars. Specifically, based on electricity left in EV batteries, patterns of their power consumption and the distances traveled by the cars, the AI system determines which EV battery should be given priority when charging and when extra power should be supplied to the roadside station depending on how much electricity is used there. Users of the EVs are notified of such information via smartphones equipped with a specialized application program. Nissan estimates that the roadside station's electricity bill will be reduced by 40,000 yen per month. The company and Namie intend to consider the possibility of expanding the use of the system to the town office and other public facilities in the future depending on results of the verification test. The project was outlined in the town on Jan. 12 by Kazuhiro Doi, Nissan's corporate vice president. Businesses and other entities are moving ahead with developing a scheme to circulate electricity within a local community by using EVs as battery chargers. But it is viewed as the first experiment of this kind in a living community. "We expect to make a success of the experiment in Namie and hopefully that will lead us to help build similar systems in various parts of the country," Doi said. Nissan has been engaged in smart mobility experiments under a partnership agreement with Namie with plans to undertake similar projects in other partner municipalities in Fukushima, including Minamisoma city and Futaba town. Nissan to open office for operations in Namie in May Nissan is scheduled to open a foothold for its operations in Namie in May. It will be housed in a building under construction at the east exit of Namie Station on East Japan Railway Co.'s Joban Line, and the automaker hopes the new office will help come up with discussions to revitalize regional communities on the whole. (Translated by Kyodo News)