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Avoid power instability (blackouts) caused by the increase in photovoltaic and wind power generation! Output control technology for power generation through renewable energy

  • MitaAmazing! So that means your technology is fairer than conventional techniques, and lowers the amount regulated?
  • HonmaYes. You can think of it like that.

Proposed technique

Two experts in their fields coming together triggered a chemical reaction that birthed the idea for this new technology

  • MitaWhat brought about the development of this technology?
  • HonmaAs I touched upon earlier, we began research into output control due to the Feed-in Tariff Scheme for Renewable Energy. At the time, I was doing research into the forecasting of power generation through renewable energy, and Mr. Hashimoto was mainly engaged in operations planning and control for power storage systems. In other words, I was well-versed in forecasting, while Mr. Hashimoto's area of expertise was control. Combining these two disciplines gave us a significant advantage.
  • MitaWhat do you mean by that?
  • HonmaCurrently, the electric utility industry is divided into forecasting specialists and control specialists. Before the advent of power generation through renewable energy, power demand forecasting was highly accurate. This meant those controlling output could perform their tasks using highly precise forecasts, so there was no need for both types of specialist to be together. However, with the mass implementation of power generation through renewable energies that produce irregular amounts such as photovoltaic and wind power in the coming years, it will become more and more difficult to forecast power demand. And when staff responsible for forecasting and control are divided, I believe it will be a challenge to use forecasts for power generation through renewable energy in the area of control.
  • MitaBut NEC has the two of you, specialists in each field.
  • HashimotoThat's right. I know about control, but not forecasting. Mr. Honma knows about forecasting, but is in the dark when it comes to control methods and planning. Consequently, we shared information and compared the knowledge we each held, and hit upon ways various elements could be applied to forecasting, as well as methods for using certain forecast data with control. We were able to develop the new technology as a result of this.
  • MitaThat seems like a fated encounter indeed!
  • HonmaIt was. Oh, another memorable part of development was the verification of effectiveness. To verify this, we had to simulate the actual operation of a power company and compare the new technology with conventional techniques. However, we had no experience with this kind of operation.
  • HashimotoIn light of this, we enlisted the help of a large number of people, including Specially-Appointed Professor Hagimoto of the University of Tokyo, and Associate Professor Ikegami of the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. Together, we simulated an entire year of power company operation, looking at every detail from the company's generator configuration to power demand and monthly dam water levels.
  • MitaA whole year? Wow! That must have been a lot of work.
  • HonmaYes, it was a very involved process. But as mentioned earlier, the verification results we obtained showed that although regulation took place on more days than conventional techniques, the amount of power generation regulated was actually reduced. The professors who assisted us were also surprised at these results.
  • MitaSo thanks to your tireless efforts, a new technology was born. I hope we will be able to utilize renewable energy even more in the near future. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to speak with me!
  • Honma, HashimotoIt was a pleasure!

Conclusion
In this installment, we heard about the output control technology NEC developed for regulating the generation of power through renewable energy. Apparently, the two staff members we spoke to today have only been with NEC a few years. Seeing such a young team serve as key members in the development of technology that will influence the utilization of power generated through renewable energy gave me hope for the future, and made me very happy. It looks like society will be able to use more renewable energy before too long! See you in the next installment of "MiTA TV"!

(Published October 8, 2015)

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