The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, a government-backed R&D agency in Japan, will begin to participate in smart grid tests at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico.

The scale is relatively small. The total budget for the project is $33M, but 33 companies--including Kyocera, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Sharp, NTT Docomo, Panasonic and NEC-will participate.

The tests will revolve around balancing the power from wind power farms and microgrids, among other topics. NEDO has been conducting smart grid experiments since 2002. In one ongoing experiment in Japan, it is studying how a 1.5 megawatt bank of batteries can balance the output of a large solar farm. It is also creating alliances in Europe.

Japanese giants have (and in some cases slowly) begun to focus more on the green tech market as the next source of exports. Panasonic, Toshiba and Sharp have all broadened their product lines in recent years.