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Japan Group to Build Smart Power Grids That Treat Energy Like Network Data

By IDG News Service

December 19, 2011

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Japan's Digital Grid Consortium plans to develop large-scale energy grids that can handle power the way the Internet handles data, using routers and service providers to efficiently manage and direct the flow of electricity. The group plans to launch experimental systems over the next three years.

The consortium's research goal is to develop technology that can track units of energy across an entire grid, tagging them with their source and destination similar to the way data packets are handled on the Web.

"This is a mechanism that will allow electricity to be sent out, or transferred back in any direction as required," says Tokyo University professor Rikiya Abe. "This is something that doesn't exist in current smart grids, which are only really used to monitor electricity."

The consortium plans for inputs to include existing power plants, solar facilities, and other alternative sources. Abe notes that the grid also will include local power storage systems such as large-scale batteries in homes. He says the units of energy will be managed by service providers, which will track and charge for them like a currency exchange.

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