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Nissan, TEPCO launch virtual power plant project in Japan

Nissan Motor and Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) will begin a study in Japan to determine how electric vehicles can help stabilize power grid demand.

A group of TEPCO employees using the Nissan e-NV200 electrical commercial van and Nissan employees using the 100% electric Nissan LEAF, the world’s best-selling electric vehicle, will participate. The project starts today and will run until the end of January.

TEPCO will notify project participants of time periods when power grid demand is low, and those who charge their vehicles during these periods can qualify for incentives based on the amount of energy charged. The project will examine the degree to which vehicle owners respond by changing their charging times, helping smooth out power demand fluctuations. The information collected will help determine the most effective use of electric cars to help stabilize grid demand.

Renewable energy will be more widely used in the future as part of the shift toward a low-carbon society. To use renewable energy in a stable and effective manner, “virtual power plants” are being developed to integrate and control dispersed energy resources on the customer side. Electric vehicles have the potential to be one of these virtual power resources, through the control of charging and discharging in cooperation with grid operators.

The Nissan-TEPCO project will take advantage of existing grid infrastructure. It will make use of Nissan’s telematics system, a service that lets electric vehicle owners remotely monitor their car’s condition and control charging via a smartphone app. It will also use EVsmart, an app that searches for vehicle charging spots, as the user interface and to collect and manage information. Participants will be able to install the apps on their smartphones at no cost.

This is Nissan’s first project of its kind in Japan. Nissan plans to partner with power companies globally to create virtual power plants using electric vehicles, contributing to a smart-energy society as part of its Intelligent Integration strategy – one of the three key areas of innovation under the company’s Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision.

TEPCO plans to move ahead with development to make its system available to a wide range of electrified vehicles from various automakers. The company is developing a system, compatible with a variety of charging and discharging devices, to further improve the adjustment functions of electric grids.

Nissan and TEPCO will report the results of their project to Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, as part of the “Demonstration experiment of virtual power plant construction leveraging energy resources on the demand side, Fiscal Year 2017.”