Japan and the United States Team to Make Maui a Leading Example in Smart Grid Technology

June 2, 2011

What will be the outcome when six power companies from two world-leading countries partner together to implement the newest energy-saving technologies in one isolated location? The answer is the trial and demonstration of a Smart Grid to cover all of Maui, Hawaii.

Tokyo and Maui, Hawaii have partnered together using GE Energy and enlisting the services of companies: Hitachi, Ltd., Cyber Defense Institute, Inc., JFE Engineering Corporation, Sharp Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Japan, Ltd., and Mizuho Corporate Bank, Ltd.

Hitachi, Ltd. is the project’s coordinator and the project is headed by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). These companies are also relying on their cooperation with the U.S. State of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. (HECO), the University of Hawaii, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Currently the feasible study of the Smart Grid is underway. It is to be completed by September 2011 and if the results are as expected, the project is to be completed by the end of March 2015.

Grid Representation

A smart grid, according to Real Estate Maui Hawaii, is,

“A new kind of power grid that saves energy by turning off household appliances when electricity is expensive. It also utilizes more wind and solar power than the norm.”

The newest technological breakthroughs that will be implemented within the Smart Grid are:

  • Power distribution control
  • Demand side lead control
  • Control ICT platform
  • Electric vehicle operation and charging control
  • Rapid chargers
  • Telecommunication technologies
  • Low carbon social infrastructure system business model on a remote island where electricity costs are high
  • Integration of more renewable energy sources
  • Management of peak circuit loads

Metering.com states,

“These technologies will be implemented to eliminate the factors in causing power voltage impacts in the distribution grids and fluctuations in power frequency when large volumes of renewable energy with weather-dependent tendency are added to a power grid.”

They are using four predetermined criteria to evaluate the study’s success.

  1. All partners have to join the U.S.-Japan Joint Evaluation Committee to share all information.
  2. Mizuho Corporate Bank will evaluate the financial reports to see if the grid can be used elsewhere, worldwide.
  3. The bank is working with local business owners to determine impacts on their financial bottom lines.
  4. The study results will be compared with security standards common within the telecommunications industry to ensure safety and regulations.

Maui, Hawaii was chosen for its remote location, it being the top state in dependency on fossil fuels, its 90 percent import of power energy statistic and also because Maui already produces 15-30 percent of the island’s energy as alternate sources. These combined factors allow for the trial of the Smart Grid to be implemented and it will build on alternate sources, lower vehicle emissions and increase sustainable energy uses.

Other sources are being evaluated and companies are partnering up to increase the reliance on the Smart Grid. Companies such as Verizon, which will ensure that all systems come from one place and work.

The estimated cost of the Smart Grid is $14 million. A federal Department of Energy grant paid for about half while General Electric and Hawaiian Electric supplied the rest along with personnel.

The combined efforts of so many power players to create and install the Smart Grid in Maui is likely to lead the way in alternative and sustainable energy use. This trial run will be the breakthrough in world technologies that changes energy consumption everywhere.

Resources: Dante Reyes, Ambient, Real Estate Maui Hawaii, Hybrid Mile, Clean Hawaii Energy, Metering.com



Jennifer Shockley

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and has recently moved back from Michigan. She is finishing up her Master’s degree in Architecture. She is currently focusing on urban planning and sustainable design and hopes to gain employment at a design firm specializing in these areas. Jennifer also has writing experience serving as an editor for her school newspaper and college magazine. Jennifer has two cats named Prada and Dior-aptly named after her shoe obsession. You can follow Jennifer on twitter @jenshock81.