Hitachi starts 1.5MW storage test project on island south of Tokyo

Hitachi and several of its subsidiaries have started testing a 1.5MW hybrid energy storage system on a remote volcanic island roughly 100 kilometres south of Tokyo, in the latest of a string of new storage projects to be announced in Japan in recent months.

The Tokyo-based conglomerate is working with Hitachi Chemical and lithium-ion battery manufacturer Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery — a wholly owned Hitachi group unit — to test the system on Izu Oshima island through February 2016.

The project is the second energy-storage demonstration project to be launched in the isolated Izu Oshima archipelago in recent months.

Regional utility Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) are also participating in the project, which has been designed to address the “challenge” of integrating solar- and wind-generated electricity into the grid.

The test will also evaluate the use of control technologies for energy-storage systems, Hitachi said in an online statement.

Storage has become increasingly important in Japan over the past year, with numerous companies, utilities and government ministries announcing new projects.

Earlier this week, Toshiba and regional utility Tohoku Electric Power announced plans to set up a 40MWh lithium-ion battery storage system at a substation in Minami-Soma, in northeastern Japan’s Fukushima prefecture.

In February, French battery specialist Saft and a unit of Tepco revealed plans to build a containerised lithium-ion battery system south of Izu Oshima on Niijima island, as part of a five-year microgrid demonstration test.

Earlier this year, a group of companies under Japan’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) revealed plans to use electricity generated by a floating wind turbine in Nagasaki prefecture to test a hydrogen storage system.

In February 2014, industrial group Sumitomo started running the first energy storage system in the world to be made of used electric-vehicle batteries. The three-year demonstration project — developed in cooperation with Nissan Motor and the MoE — uses discarded lithium-ion batteries to store electricity generated by a 10MW solar array in Osaka.

And in the summer of 2013, Sumitomo Electric Industries agreed to provide Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) with a 60MWh vanadium redox flow battery system on the northern island of Hokkaido.