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Honda to supply power conversion gear for French smart grid

Project envisions energy-sharing between homes and cars

A concept rendering of Honda's Power Manager system to be used in the French smart-grid project.

LONDON -- Honda Motor will take part in a French smart-grid project that uses electric cars as storage batteries, offering proprietary power conversion technology in a market where solar and wind power generation is increasingly taking hold.

The government-backed pilot project will be carried out through 2020 in the northwestern region of Brittany. A smart grid will deliver solar, wind and other green energy generated in 300-plus locations to end users, with electric-car batteries serving as power storage to compensate for inherent fluctuations in output.

Honda will provide the trial with its Power Manager system, which converts electric currents to generate energy usable in homes and offices, and to charge electric-car batteries using a residential power source. The system also enables car batteries to power homes.

The company has used the same system to supply electricity from fuel cell vehicles for use in homes. By gaining exposure to technological and other challenges unique to Europe, Honda hopes to expand its power equipment business in the region, where smart-grid demand is on the rise.

Renewable energy is becoming widespread in Europe as associated costs drop. In countries like Germany, it accounts for more than 30% of all electricity generated. France, which has relied heavily on nuclear power, lags behind by comparison. Renewables accounted for just 16% of its output as of 2015. The project is aiming at accumulating expertise in storage batteries and control technologies for power transmission to further expand use of renewable energy.

Emissions regulations are tightening in Europe, and Honda plans to roll out electric vehicles there next year. The company aims to have the likes of electrics and hybrids account for two-thirds of its European unit sales in 2025.

As Honda works to develop new businesses, it has positioned energy as a focus of its 2030 Vision plan.

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