EVs are also called “Yes but cars.” As in “Yes, but the power needs to come from somewhere. Usually from a dirty plant with a huge smokestack..” Several companies don’t want to hear that anymore and develop a smart grid that powers houses and cars entirely from renewable energy sources. At least that’s the plan.
According to The Nikkei [sub], Toyota, Panasonic and Japan Wind Development have each built two energy-saving smart homes in the Japanese village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture. These houses are not for sale: Engineers will live in these homes, watch the recharging of cars and batteries, and look for areas for improvement. Once the engineers don’t experience extended power outages and can drive their cars whenever they feel like it, the system should be ready for prime time.
Toyota will test a system where plug-in hybrid vehicles double as storage batteries for the homes. They will install solar panels and small wind turbines on the houses to find out whether multiple energy sources can be mated easily with battery chargers.
Hitachi will install smart meters that will transmit data on power generation and energy consumption to a control center via a communications network.
The pilot smart grid will use power generated at existing Japan Wind Development wind farms in the village as well as a 100kw solar power plant constructed by Hitachi. The firms hope to control the power supply by making use of storage batteries at the power plants, in the homes and in the cars.
General Electric, IBM and Siemens are working on similar projects.