Utrecht wants to be the first city to use its electric car fleet as a

On a sprawling sunroof over a parking zone subsequent to an workplace constructing in the Dutch city of Utrecht, there at the moment are greater than 2,000 photo voltaic panels. Beneath, there are 250 “bidirectional” chargers for electric vehicles, in order that in the future, vehicles parked in the lot can assist retailer that solar energy for the grid.

The city goals to be the first in the world to be absolutely bidirectional, utilizing electric car batteries to assist resolve considered one of the challenges of renewable power: Photo voltaic and wind energy aren’t all the time obtainable, and constructing giant batteries for storage continues to be costly. As extra folks shift to EVs, the vehicles can double as grid infrastructure.

[Image: University of Twente]

“We mainly see two mega tendencies: We’ve now seen monumental progress of renewable power era, and at the similar time, an infinite progress of the variety of electric vehicles coming to the market and being rolled out,” says Robin Berg, the director of We Drive Solar, the group constructing and managing new community of bidirectional chargers. “So for the power transition to go properly, and to be efficient with out a enormous funding by grid operators and different storage amenities, actually the method ahead is to mix these two tendencies. And to mainly allow the batteries and vehicles to be a buffer for renewable power to stability the system.”

In the parking zone, which belongs to the insurance company a.s.r., the photo voltaic panels will ship electrical energy each to the workplace constructing and to the vehicles when the solar is shining. When it’s darkish, the vehicles’ batteries reverse, sending power to the constructing, so the workplace can hold operating on photo voltaic, whereas utilizing software program to handle the power demand. (The insurance coverage firm helped fund the set up, and companions like the close by College of Twente are serving to take a look at the efficiency of the system.) The strategy takes strain off the broader electric grid. “We actually see this as a entire grid-based answer, the place you’ve vehicles in several areas offering native flexibility, but additionally flexibility to the entire grid,” he says. “So that you get a very good system total.”


Lots of of further bidirectional chargers have been put in in different elements of the city, and hundreds extra will be added. However there are nonetheless main hurdles to overcome: present electric vehicles aren’t but able to sending energy again into the grid or a constructing on command, so the system can’t work till the expertise is up to date. However the group is working with a number of car firms that can quickly roll out the expertise. Hyundai’s Ioniq 5, which helps bidirectional charging, will launch in 2022, and a public car-sharing fleet of 150 of the vehicles will be added in Utrecht.

[Photo: courtesy We Drive Solar]

As soon as the vehicles are in place, We Drive Photo voltaic will be monitoring how utilizing the system impacts the vehicles’ batteries, however it’s doubtless that it’ll assist, not harm, the vehicles. “We gained’t drain the entire battery,” he says. “We’ll simply take out some energy and put some energy again, and this up-and-down course of will not be a entire cycle. It’s particularly the entire cycles which are inflicting the battery to degrade sooner.”

The College of Utrecht calculated that with 10,000 electric vehicles utilizing bidirectional charging, it can be potential to stability the city’s whole electrical energy wants. That’s lower than 10% of the city’s present fleet of vehicles; EVs are rapidly rising, and the Netherlands plans to ban gross sales of latest gasoline and diesel vehicles starting in 2030.