Honda has announced that it will be launching a new program around their micro-electric-vehicle prototype the “Micro Computer Beta,” or MC-β. This program involves the installation of three solar powered EV charging stations in Miyakojima City, Japan.
The pairing of solar powered charging stations and the MC-β will be a combined effort of Honda and Toshiba, with Toshiba responsible for building the stations themselves. As you may know, the MC-β prototype is a petite 98” long electric vehicle, perfect for the small island roads of Miyakojima. The EV is powered by an eight horsepower motor that tops out at a leisurely pace of 43 miles per hour. With a single-charge range of fifty miles, the vehicle should have no problem making it to the next charging station no matter where they are placed on the tiny island.
You may find yourself asking “Why Miyakojima?” This tiny island is actually the perfect place for these short-range EVs. Miyakojima, part of Okinawa, is a city consisting of several islands between the southern tip of Japan and Taiwan. At just under 79 square-miles, one charge will quite literally take you from one end of the island to the other. This will allow participants in the EV experiment to have little worry about running out of power while on the road.
With 50,000 inhabitants, Miyakojima is about as populated as a small suburb, yet has nearly twice the area of Boston, MA. This will help ensure a limited strain will be placed on the blossoming infrastructure allowing it to be tested slowly, as well as the ability to properly analyze its limitations and make incremental improvements to the program as needed.
This is by no means Miyakojima’s first advancement in green power technologies. In 2010, Okinawa and the State of Hawaii teamed up to begin an initiative to increase their use of clean energy. Up to 30% of Miyakojima’s power is currently provided by either solar or wind powered sources. The Mega Solar Experiment Study Facility, opened in 2010 by the Okinawa Electric Power Co. operates 22,000 solar panels on the southern coast, generating up to 4 megawatts of clean energy. Up north are five wind turbines pumping out up to an additional 4.2 megawatts of power. Backing up this combined 8.2 MW system is a 4 MW battery that helps to compensate on cloudy or rainy days.
By combining the clean energy provided by the expansive solar panel setup, the gargantuan wind turbines and the soon to be solar powered EV charging stations, Miyakojima is determined to lower emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 70 percent by 2050. These are just some of the big efforts being put forth in this small island community and they will undoubtedly help provide invaluable information on changing the way we power or lives.