Toshiba Plans Solar-Powered Smart Charge for Electric Vehicles
Making the use of electric vehicles not just environmentally fashionable but practical for the average driver may soon become a reality due to new Charge Grid technology announced by Toshiba in Tokyo at the recent 2010 Smart Grid Exhibition.
Toshiba plans to not only set up the Charge Grid infrastructure, but will also provide service for it. The
Charge Grid will utilize rechargeable batteries and use up the surplus electricity that is generated by solar powered photovoltaic cells. These solar-fueled batteries will be located in areas where electric vehicles drivers can access them to recharge their motors.
In the Toshiba system, Lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable batteries will be connected to the electricity grid via bidirectional inverters. The Charge Grid will allow for rapid recharging of electric vehicles when drivers are away from home.
The system will utilize the surplus electricity that is generated by solar systems installed in residential or commercial buildings. At night when power from the grid is cheapest, or at times when surplus solar power is not available, the Charge Grid will draw from regular electrical sources to recharge the Li-ion batteries.
Advantages of Toshiba’s system are the elimination of the need for construction of electrical substations and associated equipment, which was thought to be necessary to make usage of electric vehicle usage more widespread. Although there is a cost for the lithium batteries, the system will effectively utilize surplus solar power from photovoltaic sources, which is not currently practical.
It will take some time for Toshiba to turn the proposed system into a reality. The company plans to commercialize the Charge Grid over the next few years.