JUMPSmartMaui project comes to ‘successful’ end

The JUMPSmartMaui renewable energy demonstration project that helped set up electric vehicle charging station infrastructure and smart-grid EV technology on the island came to a “successful” conclusion in February after a nearly six-year run, the project announced this month.

Japan’s largest public research and development management organization, New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), through a U.S.-Japan government agreement, funded the more than $30 million project that launched in June 2011. Partners included Hitachi, Mizuho Corporate Bank, Nissan, Maui Electric Co, Maui Economic Development Board, the University of Hawaii Maui College, the state, the county and others.

The project attracted 530 resident and business volunteers on the island, JUMPSmartMaui said in a news release May 4. The goal was to demonstrate smart-grid technologies to enable efficient use of renewable energy in an island setting and to respond to changing demands on the grid caused by as-available renewable energy, such as rooftop solar power.

Maui was selected for the demonstration project because of the many renewable energy projects already in place that were impacting grid operations, said MEDB President and CEO Jeanne Unemori Skog in an email Wednesday. Solutions were needed to allow the integration of more renewable energy. In addition, EVs were gaining acceptance on Maui, she said.

Phase 1 of the project recruited more than 200 owners or lessees of the Nissan Leaf and 30 homeowner volunteers. JUMPSmartMaui installed 13 fast-charging stations across the island, the first such installation in the state, according to the news release. The station installation sites included the county building, Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, Maui Ocean Center, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, Piilani Village Shopping Center and Kulamalu Town Center. Participants were offered access to the fast-charging stations as well as 200 Level II chargers.

The first phase provided JUMPSmart Maui with a lot of information on “charging behavior of EV users . . . (that) will be beneficial as we work to commercialize EV charging station operations to sustain the service on Maui,” said Skog.

Some EV owners only use charging stations; others charge at home and use the stations as backup, she said. This could offer insight into fee structures with those who only use stations possibly preferring a fixed monthly charge and the home chargers more attracted to a pay-per-minute approach.

EV owners also mainly use charging stations during the day, which is beneficial because that is when utilities are receiving power from renewable PV systems, she said.

In the second phase, EV-PCS devices, developed by Hitachi, were installed in 80 homes and businesses. The device charges EVs and discharges power to the home, business or MECO as needed by the electric grid. The goal was to create a “virtual power plant” that would integrate and manage renewable energy resources, such as batteries in EVs, according to the news release.

The project learned that many residential EV owners tend to start charging their vehicles when they get home in the evening at the peak power-use period for MECO, said Skog. To mitigate the problem, the project scheduled charging at midnight during lower load periods and exporting power during peak loads.

“This validated that EVs could be part of a smart grid,” she said.

Fumitoshi Emura, president of Hitachi Advanced Clean Energy Corp., concurred, saying that “this project demonstrated how the electricity demands of the utility grid, the home, and businesses can be satisfied with the integration of electric vehicles. This demonstration proves that we can dramatically change the interface between mobility and energy.”

He added that “the impact of JUMPSmartMaui is obvious on the roads where the EV is now commonly seen.”

Sharon Suzuki, president of MECO, said that JUMPSmartMaui helped the utility “better understand how smart grid technology, renewable energy and EVs can work together.”

“Ultimately, these efforts will contribute to solving Maui’s energy challenges,” she said.

The 13 fast-charging stations will continue to operate on Maui and serve members who choose to continue their participation. JUMPSmartMaui is recruiting members for a new program, which will be announced soon. The new program will be open to other EVs besides the Leaf, including plug-in hybrid EVs.

“The investment in this project by Japan has truly been a gift to Maui and a major contribution to understanding how to achieve our 100 percent renewable energy goals,” said Skog.

She said that data collected from JUMPSmartMaui will continue to be used to plan and implement sustainable business models of EVs and grid operations.

“Also, we see Maui as a technology showcase of newly developed advanced energy solutions,” Skog said.

For more information, visit www.JUMPSmartMaui.com, email info@JUMPSmartMaui.com, call MEDB at 875-2300 or follow JUMPSmartMaui on Facebook.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)


Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today