Toshiba to supply battery control systems for Japan's "virtual power plant"

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The Tokyo-based group will provide the systems to Tokyo Electric Power Co. Energy Partner (Tepco EP) — a unit of regional Japanese utility Tokyo Electric Power Co. — for a demonstration in the city of Yokohama.

“Technology for integrated control of storage batteries and negawatt technology on the Toshiba Internet of Things platform will be a big step toward the practical use of virtual power plants,” said Ryuji Maruyama, vice president of solutions and services in Toshiba’s energy systems division.

The project, which will test different ways to control clustered batches of storage batteries through the end of March 2018, has been designed to lay the foundations for a battery service business that Toshiba hopes to eventually launch.

It will install fixed storage batteries in elementary and junior high schools that the city of Yokohama has designated as regional disaster centers. It will then set up charge and discharge plans for the batteries, which will be charged with electricity generated by PV modules.

The company said these plans will help it determine the most appropriate times to use the batteries, so it can learn new ways to offer ancillary services and minimize imbalance costs. Tepco EP will use Toshiba’s storage battery group control systems to regulate power supplies during normal hours, while the municipal authorities will use them to provide electricity in emergency situations.

Since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of March 2011, there has been a growing push in Japan to move away from “rigid supply systems based on traditional, large-scale centralized power sources,” Toshiba said.