An owner of 900 companies globally and 70 in the US, IT giant Hitachi has recently been increasingly focusing on smart grid technology and sustainable infrastructure development.

From fiscal years 2010-2012, Hitachi has dedicated 1.6 trillion yen (roughly $20.5 billion) to what it calls “social innovation business.” During that same period, the company has also dedicated 1.2 trillion yen to research and development in the social innovation business, according to Hitachi Director of Corporate Branding, Lauren Raguzin.

Social innovation business is any sort of eco-friendly technology in the industrial, transportation, IT and telecommunications and power systems sectors. Hitachi has been piloting such programs across the globe, including in Japan, Hawaii, Lithuania and Singapore.

Masayuki (Mickey) Takeuchi, from Hitachi America’s Branding & Corporate Communications Group, recently emailed answers to questions about the company’s smart grid investments to Breaking Energy. Extracts from that email are included below:

Could you provide a bit of detail as to what technologies you’re using/creating for smart grid?

Hitachi Group has a lot of technologies for smart grid, such as Energy Management Systems, Home Energy Management Systems, Smart Mobility Systems and Intelligent Water Systems, etc. For instance, in Energy Management Systems, Hitachi Group has the technologies for power system stability, high efficient amorphous transformer, rechargeable battery for power. Also we have the technologies for solar power systems, LED lighting systems and all-electric systems in Home Energy Management Systems. We have the electric / hybrid vehicle technologies in Smart Mobility Systems and also we have many products and services for water treatment systems in Intelligent Water Systems.

What’s being used in Hawaii and how will future smart grid project look?

Mainly Smart Mobility Systems and Energy Management Systems will be used in the Hawaii Project:

Electric Vehicle-based Remote Island Smart Grid Model on Maui

With the goal of eliminating the impact of output fluctuations from renewable energy on power frequencies, we will establish an Electric Vehicle Energy Control Center to create a smart grid on an island without an alternative energy source. They will facilitate comprehensive energy management for the Electric Vehicles by linking a Distribution Management System to be established in the Kihei district of the island, and an Energy Management System, which will control the demand-supply balance in the power grid of Maui Electric Company.

Smart Grid Model at a Substation with One Distribution Grid Level in Kihei

Hitachi will demonstrate power grid operational stability to address issues such as power voltage, surplus electricity and frequency fluctuations from renewable energy use as well as cooperative-controlling Energy Management System and a Distribution Management System that controls the balance of supply and demand in a power grid.

The goal of this demonstration is to solve various issues, including voltage issues related to reverse power flow that stem from photovoltaic solar power generation linked with distribution system terminals and excess load on low-voltage transformers when multiple EVs are charged at the same time.

This Hawaii Project is expected to be completed by the end of March 2014.

Could you provide greater detail on some of the other examples of SIB?

The Social Innovation Business is comprised of the Information and Telecommunication Systems; Power Systems; and Industrial, Transportation and Urban Development Systems fields together with the Materials and Key Devices field, which supports the first three.

Photo Caption: Hiroaki Nakanishi, president of Japan’s high-tech firm Hitachi Ltd, makes a speech during a press conference in Tokyo on June 9, 2011. The company said it expects its group net profit in the financial year ending March 2012 to fall 16 percent on-year due the impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.