Toyota City Uses Plug-In Hybrids To Balance Power Supply

JUL 19 2017 BY MARK KANE 12

Toyota has announced a pretty neat  “Virtual Power Plant” project in Toyota City, Japan utilizing its popular 2nd generation Prius Plug-In (AKA Prius Prime in the US), focusing on local production, and local consumption, of renewable electricity.

Toyota Prius Plug-In at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show

The Plug-in Prii are to be used as one of several elements to regulate power on the demand side (for example delayed charging).

Partners in the project are:

  • Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc.
  • Denso Corporation
  • Toyota Motor Corporation
  • Toyota Turbine and Systems Inc.
  • Toyota City

The project will be conducted through March 2020 with pursuit of the creation of a new business model.

“The project outlines the construction of a virtual power plant that will regulate electric power demand according to the supply of electric power generated from renewable energy in Toyota City and that will enable multiple user-side energy resources to function as if they were a single power plant.”

“The virtual power plant demonstration project will use energy management to coordinate power demand according to the supply of wind, solar and biomass energy, which is susceptible to changes in weather and other factors, with the aim of verifying the feasibility of local production and consumption of carbon-free renewable energy.

Specifically, the project will use information and communications technology (ICT) to link plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs), heat pump water heaters, storage batteries and other items owned by households and businesses and to control the charging times of PHVs, the charging and discharging of storage batteries, and so on, to coordinate demand according to the supply of electric power generated from renewable energy. The virtual power plant, an innovative, next-generation energy management system that uses ICT, is to be created to establish fundamental energy infrastructure that contributes to such efficient use of energy.

In addition, electric power created by the virtual power plant will be provided to general electric power distributors to study the formation of new business that contributes to power-grid stabilization.”

“The project will also investigate the usefulness of centralized control of storage batteries and other devices connected to a distribution network as one means of coordinating network voltage and direction of electric power flow with the aim of creating a power grid that enables further expansion of renewable energy.”

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12 Comments on "Toyota City Uses Plug-In Hybrids To Balance Power Supply"

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Pretty much Musk’s vision with EV’s, solar roofs and battery storage to smooth out the peaks and valleys of electrical supply and demand.

As reported here, BMW is also piloting something like this in California. Power companies have had load demand control on hot water heaters and electric baseboard heat in homes for decades. Had my hot water shut off twice this week due to power demand spikes in the current heat wave. I approached my utility about a reduced KWH rate for charging and they laughed basically saying it would be waaaayyyy too hard. I said but hey you already do it to my hot water heater and my electric heater (yes there are peak winter demands too…due to electric heating) by shutting off the circuit. Why can’t you just wire the charging outlet in the same fashion and just call it a ‘water heater’. There is no additional tech required for that. Their response *crickets*. And by the way that was me going to the office and speaking to the head engineer.

Strange. Having lived in several countries where solar water heaters are popular, they ALL collect solar heat directly, no PV involved. Normally store the hot water overnight in 300 litre insulated cylinders. Cheap and very effective.

I researched this when getting PV and the consensus seemed to be in 2014 that the costs of PV were less and declining. Plus, many smaller households do not have the space in the attic for a larger tank needed by solar hot water system. Plus, those in cooler climates have some drama with freezing temperatures. The only use case that seemed to pencil out was commercial entities that use a lot of hot water. So I filled my roof with PV, although if things change in the next 5 years I have enough on a western facing area to do solar hot water, assuming someone makes a tank that will fit in a condo attic.

Yeah all this cutesy stuff I don’t really see as going any where. Tom previously commented that I don’t see why a shedable rate schedule couldn’t be introduced for EV charging customers, and neither do I, since as he states, they do it with water heaters. The utility around me smartly only interrupted the lower element, wisely using the fact that water is a poor heat conductor, and in most electrics the water is stratefied. End result? You never actually run out of hot water since the upper element can always operate on the pricey electricity, but EVERY NIGHT the water heater takes exactly 8 hours to replenish the COLD tank under tha hot water leaving. Thus a GREAT energy storage battery, even if it did work the BEST with STANDARD RECOVERY electric water tanks which are no longer made. The problem that apparently only I have recognized (impossible that only I see this as a problem: I’m sure others have come to the exact same conclusion but I have yet to find anyone else talking about it), is that the car’s charging inefficiency DOUBLES at least when being used for V2GRid service. The inefficiency is the deal killer….It simply… Read more »

This isn’t really about V2G. Note that it says “storage batteries”, not the cars’ batteries.

As far as the cars go this is just “G2V”, smart charging. Smart charging isn’t cutesy stuff, it’ll be needed anyway, simple to implement and doesn’t need utilities to do anything, because it’ll happen at the ISO level.

However, I disagree about the efficiency problem for V2G. Use of V2G avoids use of peakers. As long as efficiecy(source) x efficiency(charge) x efficiency(discharge) > efficiency(peaker) it’s a winner.

I just doubt V2G because I think that smart charging and dedicated batteries will win out.

Oh, in addition to peaker efficiency, it also handles renewable variation. And that only applies to the _variation_ not the whole production.

Yes, I misread the diagram. The title of this article is the reason why. The PHEV is not ‘balancing the power supply’, if anything, its ‘balancing the load’.

“ICT … to control the charging times of PHVs.” If Toyota sold 60 kWh+ battery electric vehicles each could *supply* 10 kWh to the Virtual Power Plant without interfering with most users’ daily driving or the battery’s lifetime.

This project is about smart charging, rather than V2G feed-in.

Oh ok, apparently I didn’t misread it….

Jeez…..Ok – to make a one liner out of it, to the extent they take power from A prius prime, to that extent will be the inefficiency.

If they don’t, then there won’t be any.

Leaf has already shown extracting power from the CHAdeMO port to charge another vehicle (a Tesla is I remember correctly). Nissan are not just talking about it, but seem to be on the path of V2G. The biggest issue I see with V2G is that the car is out and about so much.
But I did mention it to my boss, showed him how much solar power we export (and don’t get any income from), how many company cars were parked, and how V2G could work on a business context.
Exciting times are just around the corner.