Renewable energy. Is it really worth the investment, does it even make a difference? Earlier this year, (2018) Mitsubishi Motors worked with ENGIE and Hitachi Europe, Ltd. on a project to create renewable energy. By creating a system for renewable energy, the objective seemed to be complete and the project was successful. Following this, the opportunities that were now open to businesses, maybe even homeowners, began to flow. To find how well the renewable energy system worked and the benefits of implementing such a new project, Mitsubishi Electric did some coding and crunched some numbers.
Without going too much into the renewable energy system developed by Mitsubishi Motors, ENGIE, and Hitachi Europe, the design is pretty simple. To accomplish renewable energy, one needs a power source and a place to store excess power for later use. ENGIE is a Building Energy Management System (BEMS) outfitted with solar panels that collect and store energy in the building’s electric grid for use throughout the day. The sun and ENGIE supply the power source.
Mitsubishi Motors donated a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to the project to act as the storage device for that excess power – being a plug-in hybrid vehicle, the PHEV can also be charged up with the excess energy. All that was needed was a charging device so that energy could be transferred between the Outlander PHEV and ENGIE. This problem was solved by Hitachi Europe with their bi-directional vehicle-to-everything V2X charger. At the end of the day, ENGIE collects and stores energy, excess energy is converted through the V2X charger and is then used to charge up the Outlander PHEV. Come nightfall, as the electric grid for ENGIE loses power, energy is taken from the Outlander PHEV. Come daylight, the cycle repeats, and thus, we technically have renewable energy.
What about the changing of the seasons and duration of sunlight, some may wonder. That’s one objective Mitsubishi Electric faced, and so the company went to work to test the renewable energy system by coding a very intricate program for how the system operates. Mitsubishi Electric basically optimized the schedules for not only charging EVs but also discharging the power collected back into a company building. This program uses multi-directional power to reduce or increase the shift and conversion of energy depending on the use of electricity by the company building throughout the day. Data is collected every few minutes, the shift and conversion of energy is modified according to the data, and then at the end of the cycle (24 hours), the program resets and refines electric use scheduling for the following cycle.
In addition to optimizing the use of gathered and stored electricity, Mitsubishi Electric also optimized the operation of photovoltaic (PV) systems that converted sunlight into electricity, and other power-generation systems to work in tandem with this new program. With all of the data and systems working together, the program is able to decide whether the company building should be supplemented with more electricity based on current costs, if it’s more beneficial to use the energy stored away, and whether or not it is beneficial to store or transfer energy at all.
After implementing the new energy-management program, Mitsubishi Electric found that a company can reduce their electric power costs by 5% when optimizing their energy storage charging/discharging schedules. That’s not a large number, but assuming a single Outlander PHEV unit was used for this test, let’s look at the facts for the average company building. Monthly consumption of electricity rolls out around 6506 kWh, with each kWh costing $9.35. That’s a total of $7,000 every month, but by using a renewable energy system, that company can cut costs by $500/month. Doesn’t seem like a huge change, but this is just the beginning. Five years from now, who knows how large of an effect this could have.
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