Green

Japanese electronics bigwigs team up for U.S. smart grid

A dozen well-known Japanese electronic companies — Toshiba and Hitachi prime among them — have announced that they are teaming up to build a working smart grid in the U.S. by 2010. Construction will begin as soon as October as part of a New Mexico pilot program of 1,000 households.

Spearheaded by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan’s public research and development organization for environmental technologies, the smart grid initiative will be partially funded by the Japanese government between $20.3 and $30.4 million.

In addition to monitoring and digitally distributing electricity, the system born out of this program will place emphasis on solar power generation and storage. About 25 percent of the contract city’s power will come from solar. And with a 1,000-kilowatt battery-based storage system built in, this energy could be tapped into even at night.

This is not the first involvement the country has had in the U.S.’s smart grid plans. In April, the two countries collaborated on a research project that also included the participation of large Japanese companies like Fuji Electric, Panasonic and Shimizu Corp. NEDO says those that have been enlisted to help with this new smart grid program were mostly drafted from the April study.

Notably, the Japanese companies will retain ownership of the resulting grid and will operate it following construction, mostly via the internet. Many have dabbled in the renewable energy and cleantech sector in the form of battery and solar cell manufacturing. But having their own smart grid should boost their home country’s profile considerably.

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