We all love the idea of electric vehicles (EVs) rolling quietly down the road, emitting nothing. But our passion cools when we ask: where does that electricity come from and why can’t it come from renewable sources?
Japan, the island nation that likes to think ahead about energy and water conservation, is researching the infrastructure needed to achieve wide use of EVs. Mitsubishi and the Tokyo Institute of Technology are collaborating on developing charging stations powered by solar and wind. Mitsubishi will be using its incredibly appealing i-MiEV car in the infrastructure research project, which will tackle questions such as:
- How to recharge during non-peak times, such as at night, so there is less impact on the environment
- How to store off-peak energy so that it can be used to recharge EVs later
- How to store energy from wind so that it is available when needed, and how to communicate that availability at a charging station.
- How EVs will be used by actual drivers and how they might recharge them in solar-powered homes.
Field testing will include a concept home with solar PV panels and a charging post, from which the EV will be driven back and forth to the campus. A solar thermal dish using a Stirling engine will be used to generate power. Remote wind towers will be linked into the system as well.
Field testing started July 1 and will continue through March 31, 2010, under the auspices of the Advanced Energy Management (AEM) project promoted by the Integrated Research Institute of the Tokyo Institute of Technology. (Note to American car-makers: the Japanese are about to clean your clock again.)
Image Credit: TechOn , which also has good background on the story.