Mitsubishi Builds Smart Grid/EV Research Center

M-tech LaboThe potential of an electric car to be a rolling storehouse of electricity goes beyond just personal use, according to Mitsubishi; Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi Motors, and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation just opened a test facility to evaluate the potential for electric cars to stabilize the power grid.

The facility in question is named “M-tech Labo” (presumably short for “laboratory,” because Japan does love its contractions), and it’s running under guidance from the Tokyo Institute of Technology as well as drawing on the expertise of the three companies pooling their resources to operate it. The main focus of the research is whether EVs and their batteries can be used to even out potential power fluctuations resulting from a higher percentage of renewable energy.

Giant Rolling Storage Battery

Given a potentially unsteady power supply from renewable sources, the quick and obvious answer is to store excess energy when it’s available and use it when supply is lower than demand. However, space is at a premium in Japan, and that’s where the versatile Mitsubishi i-MiEV could once again come into play.

Instead of focusing only on immobile and dedicated power storage, the M-tech Labo facility is working out how to use electric vehicles hooked into the grid as extra power storage, to be used in times of peak demand, but without interfering with drivers actually driving the cars. Currently, Mitsubishi’s Nagoya Works plant is the guinea pig, along with some 50kW of power output from the equipment used during testing and experimentation.

Testing of the new potential “eco city” model is supposed to continue for about a year, at which point Mitsubishi will either tell us all that they’ve had a brilliant plan that worked amazingly well, or that the cars don’t make much of a difference at all.

How do you think it will turn out? Let us know in the comments, below.

Source | Image: Sankei News.

Charis Michelsen

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.