Mitsubishi Electric Building SUSTIE Reduces Energy Consumption Below Zero
The Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has been through quite the number of developments, hasn’t it? Ever since becoming a part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, consumers have been wondering what will be the next release from Mitsubishi Motors, with all sights set on a new electric vehicle from the automaker. Sister company Mitsubishi Electric is also a large player in the industry these days, not just designing technology like Maisart, but entire buildings that can reduce energy costs via the use of solar panels and energy management. In fact, in the spring of 2018, MMC worked with two companies on a neutral-energy project, and this eventually led to the construction of SUSTIE®, a net zero-energy building (ZEB) test facility that recently reduced its energy use by 115-percent, virtually generating energy instead.
That’s a first. How many machines out there generate more energy than they consume? Not many, if any, and those that do most likely use similar mechanics to SUSTIE. Launched at MMC’s Information Technology R&D Center (Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture) in 2020, after a full year of operations, data shows that over a space of a medium-sized office building with more than 6,000m2 of floor space, SUSTIE was able to reduce energy consumption to less than 0-percent thanks to solar panels, new ZEB operating technology, and Maisart.
SUSTI is a testing facility but was run just like any other office building. The newly developed ZEB operating technology was utilized over a one-year period to simulate the everyday use of building equipment. This means operating and managing air conditioning and lighting, including temperature and brightness, to predict energy consumption and comfort levels, as well as other electrical functions a company may have going on during a normal work day. Many simulations were run during the year, in combination with multi-objective optimization technology, all controlled by Mitsubishi Electric’s proprietary AI technology Maisart. The end-goal was to create a building that could balance energy consumption and human comfort, and instead, resulted in energy creation of 571.75MJ per cubic-meter, energy consumption of 366.07MJ per cubic-meter, and an energy balance of -205.68MJ per cubic-meter over the course of a year.
It’s a little crazy to think about when you look at the progression of this technology. In 2018, when Mitsubishi partnered with ENGIE and Hitachi Europe Ltd, they simply employed the use of ENGIE HQ, a Building Energy Management System (BEMS) setup with solar panels that convert solar energy into electricity and stores the rest in the building’s power grid for later use. Where does the excess energy go? At first, nowhere, but with the use of a vehicle-to-everything V2X charger from Hitachi, that energy was diverted into a Outlander PHEV SUV, a plug-in hybrid that could then operate as a portable battery as well as another form of energy storage for the building. This project eventually spawned the Dendo Drive House Mitsubishi unveiled during the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, a house powered by solar panels, an in-house battery, and of course had the Outlander PHEV in the garage for extra energy storage and use.
After a little more tinkering with clean energy, Mitsubishi Electric was first able to reduce energy costs in a typical office building by 5-percent. It sounds like a small number, but a building spending $7,000 a year would benefit from the savings. That was back in 2018, so it’s amazing that in just two years, MMC constructed SUSTIE, a building that was able to take what the company has learned in the past, and able to reduce energy consumption to less than 0-percent, thanks to new technology and operations run by an AI.
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