Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Households will acquire power using their electric car's battery

18 Sep 2014 16:01 | Communication

This year sees the launch of the pilot ‘Vehicle2Grid’. This will allow households to store power produced by their solar panels in the battery of their electric cars. This is innovative: currently households return any surplus power generated directly back to the national grid. This new system provides for a better balance between power generation and use. The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) is about to investigate the Vehicle2Grid's business model and user experience.

The Vehicle2Grid (V2x) pilot starts in September in households in Lochem and will be rolled out further from 2015 in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. Project manager Katrien de Witte (HvA) explains the pilot scheme: 'With the current situation, it's still impossible to store surplus power generated by from example solar panels. All you can really do is load it back onto the grid the moment the surplus occurs. This is not particularly economic. Neither for energy suppliers, nor for households.'

Imbalance between the national grid and households

Project member Jurjen Helmus explains that at the point additional power is generated, say when there is a lot of sun and/or wind, there already exists excess capacity on the grid. This means low prices for the power supplier. It is in the evenings however, when there is no sun on the panels and households start putting demand on the grid, that it becomes more burdened. For the first time this new system will make it possible to store any power surplus and to have it available to be used whenever it is required. This means that locally generated power will be used locally. Jurjen: 'Vehicle2Grid in a larger sense is an important step towards a sustainable circular energy economy.'

16 microwave hours in your car

The smart battery has another advantage: currently, the electric car will automatically stop loading when it reaches capacity. With the new system, the battery can continue to load at night, storing the surplus of energy. What is different here is that the battery can be discharged, which was not possible before. The amount of energy that can be stored in the battery is considerable: approximately 16 kilowatt-hours; a microwave for example could run for 30 hours on this.

Research into user experience

Researchers and students at HvA Cleantech will investigate the business model and user experience, the former in cooperation with students from the UvA Business School. The research will look into the following among other things: what hindrances do the users experience, how does the flow of capital pass between the household and energy supplier, and who eventually becomes the owner? The HvA will also research the kinds of incentives the national grid manager can offer the consumers for either returning the energy or for storing it. Technical service supplier Cofely is developing a user interface system, which will be further improved by HvA students.

Cooperation with business

The pilot is a cooperative project between among others Cofely, national grid manager Alliander, Mitsubishi Motor Corporation, Amsterdam Smart City, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) and the Nieuw-West city district. The collaborating partners expect that both the use of electric cars and the local generation of power will see a marked increase over the coming years. They would like to prepare for this jointly, ensuring a better balance in the national grid. 

Katrien de Witte: 'This pilot clearly demonstrates how educational institutions and businesses can complement each other when they collaborate. This could be considered something of a current hot topic in view of yesterday's urgent appeal by Dutch universities calling for more cooperation with the business community.'

Katrien de Witte leads the Vehicle2Grid-project on behalf of the HvA, together with Robert van den Hoed, professor in Energy and Innovation.