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Japan contracts two massive battery storage systems to balance wind, solar PV load

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has chosen three companies to install two large-scale battery systems in the northern part of the nation to support the expansion of wind and solar on Japan’s electric grid.

Through the Large-scale Storage Battery System Demonstration Project, Hokkaido Electric Power Inc. (Sapporo, Japan) and Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. (Osaka, Japan) will jointly install a 60 MWh redox-flow battery on the island of Hokkaido. Additionally, Tohoku Electric Power Co. Ltd. (Sendai, Japan) will install a 20 MWh lithium-ion battery in the Tōhoku region.

“This project is Japan’s first effort to introduce large-scale storage batteries in electricity grids, and METI aims to rapidly acquire the necessary technology and know-how so as to utilize such batteries in electricity grids in a specific manner,” declares METI in a press statement.

Projects to study frequency variation, supply/demand balance

The two projects were chosen via a public solicitation held in April 2013. Tohoku Electric Power’s lithium ion project was chosen to address the issue of frequency variation, and Sumitomo’s redox flow battery has been chosen to look at the technology’s ability to balance supply and demand at times when demand falls.

The Tōhoku project will coordinate the lithium ion batteries to operate with conventional power generation while utilizing the batteries as much as possible to adjust frequency, suppressing the impact on battery life.

In the Hokkaido project, the companies will not only look at how well the batteries address varying electricity output from wind and PV, but also at developing technology to control and manage the battery system. METI notes that redox-flow batteries can be used to deal with supply/demand balance over a long period of time.

METI aims for the projects to increase the capacity of the supply-demand adjustment function by 10% in each region.
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