Solar-powered EV Charging Station Installed for Agricultural Use

2014/02/06 21:55
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

Mitsubishi Motors Corp and Nichicon Corp started full operation of a power charging station that stores solar electricity in a lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable battery and uses it to charge electric vehicles (EVs) for agricultural use Feb 4, 2014.

The power charging station is located in Iwanuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. This system was selected for the "Field Research for Utilization and Application of Unused Energy in Rural Areas" of the "Project for Applying Advanced Technologies in the Aim of Revitalizing Food-producing Areas." The project was planned by Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Reconstruction Agency for restoring the agriculture, forestry and fishery industries damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

At the power charging station, solar electricity is stored in a Li-ion battery installed at the station, and the electricity is used to charge an EV with a CHAdeMO-based quick charger. Mitsubishi Motors and Nichicon lend EVs to farming households near the station and collect data on how farmers use the EVs and the electricity stored in them in agricultural regions. This is the first time in Japan that solar electricity has been used for agriculture by using EVs.

With the power charging station, the companies aim to realize (1) the local production and consumption of energy (especially renewable energy) without using fossil fuels, (2) renewable energy-based agriculture without relying on electricity from the grid by applying the system to non-electrified regions, (3) reduction in gasoline cost and agricultural production cost by using EVs and (4) electric-powered agriculture using the renewable energy-based charging station and EVs.

For the future, Mitsubishi Motors and Nichicon plan to perform field tests to establish the "Smart Agri-Network," which enables to efficiently use energy for farming in a community by installing charging stations using not only solar power but also wind and small hydraulic power and networking them.