Industry Analysis

Virtual power plant project starts in Toyota city

Aimed at achieving local production and local consumption of renewable energy by regulating power demand.

Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc., Denso Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Turbine and Systems Inc., together with Toyota City, have launched a “virtual power plant” demonstration project, which aims to achieve the local production and consumption of renewable energy. The project outlines the construction of a virtual power plant that will regulate electric power demand according to the supply of electric power generated from renewable energy in Toyota City and that will enable multiple user-side energy resources to function as if they were a single power plant.

Toyota City, which has set out to assume the role of serving as a model for an environmental city, has adopted an action plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, compared to 1990, as part of an initiative to make it a low-carbon city. The city established the Toyota City Connected Society Verification Promotion Council with private-sector enterprises in October 2016, and one of the issues the council is addressing is local production of renewable energy for local consumption.

The virtual power plant demonstration project will use energy management to coordinate power demand according to the supply of wind, solar and biomass energy, which is susceptible to changes in weather and other factors, with the aim of verifying the feasibility of local production and consumption of carbon-free renewable energy.

Specifically, the project will use information and communications technology (ICT) to link plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs), heat pump water heaters, storage batteries and other items owned by households and businesses and to control the charging times of PHVs, the charging and discharging of storage batteries, and so on, to coordinate demand according to the supply of electric power generated from renewable energy. The virtual power plant, an innovative, next-generation energy management system that uses ICT, is to be created to establish fundamental energy infrastructure that contributes to such efficient use of energy.

In addition, electric power created by the virtual power plant will be provided to general electric power distributors to study the formation of new business that contributes to power-grid stabilisation.

The project will also investigate the usefulness of centralised control of storage batteries and other devices connected to a distribution network as one means of coordinating network voltage and direction of electric power flow with the aim of creating a power grid that enables further expansion of renewable energy.

Toyota City and the four companies intend to carry out the project until March 2020 and pursue the creation of new business while contributing to regional development through the formation of a low-carbon society.

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