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Published on July 9th, 2008 | by Carol Gulyas


The Sustainable, Rechargable Electric Car: Japan Takes Up the Challenge

July 9th, 2008 by  

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.

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About the Author

Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.

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