Solar power storage by citizens stagnating

Financial incentives to cause a breakthrough

9 May 2017 16:21 | Communication

Electric cars can function as power plants for solar power. The technology already exists, but is not being widely applied at street and neighbourhood level. The main reason is the lack of financial benefits for citizens, which means that companies developing the technology are not yet focusing on this target group.

The international Vehicle2Grid conference on 11 and 12 May, hosted by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), should prompt European and local politicians, grid operators, researchers and companies to join forces and roll out this method for energy storage in electric vehicles in cities, neighbourhoods and streets as well.

The Vehicle2Grid conference , organised by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in conjunction with the environmental consultancy Resourcefully , is being attended by companies that lead the way in the Vehicle2Grid sector, as well as by the automotive industry, policy-makers and knowledge institutes. The European Investment Bank and the European Commission will also be in attendance as possible financial backers.

Speakers include Amsterdam Chief Technology Officer Ger Baron, AUAS Professor of Energy and Innovation Robert van den Hoed and Robin Berg of the We Drive Solar project.

Pilot projects

Storing excess power from solar panels in the batteries of electric vehicles in order to use it later has been possible for a few years now, thanks to so-called Vehicle2Grid technology. This technology enables cars and households to use clean energy, even at times when the supply of solar power is low. What’s more, the new technology helps to balance usage of the electricity grid: the stored power can be fed back into the grid at times when power demand is high. The AUAS is the first university of applied sciences in the Netherlands to set up pilot projects for the development of this technology.

In Europe, a number of large-scale commercial pilot projects implementing this new technology are currently underway. However, while the number of electric cars is rapidly growing, the application of this technology for households and neighbourhoods is yet to be realised. The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is organising the international Vehicle2Grid conference to give this development a boost.

Slow progress

‘The available technology is appearing in society to a very limited degree, and agonizingly slowly,’ says Hugo Niesing, organiser of the international Vehicle2Grid conference at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. ‘In Europe, we see hard work being carried out in various regions to roll out this technology, but most of these commercial projects are aimed at balancing the electricity grid, because that’s where there’s money to be made.’

In Copenhagen, for instance, the automotive industry and an energy supplier are collaborating in a project where cars deliver electricity back to the grid through charging stations. The ArenA in Amsterdam is experimenting with returning stored power from used batteries to the electricity grid.

Problem: the business case

This means the great revolution for households is still on hold. The biggest problem is the business case, says Niesing. ‘The companies that develop these systems aren’t doing so for households yet because clean energy for these consumers doesn’t bring them profits. Energy costs the consumer 24 cent per kilowatt-hour, irrespective of whether this is clean or dirty energy. The first incentive should therefore be to reduce the energy price for clean, locally generated energy. The second incentive should be to impose lower tax rates on households and companies that use clean energy and thus make less use of the grid.

Experiments in cities

The Vehicle2Grid conference is a major opportunity for the industry, policy-makers and researchers, prompted by these findings, to take joint steps for rolling out this technology to the rest of society. Europe, in collaboration with cities, can act as a major role model by facilitating large projects and thus demonstrating the benefits provided by Vehicle2Grid. The next step is for the government to actually introduce the incentives for consumers.

The European Investment Bank, which is also attending the conference, will be carefully noting the latest developments in energy-storage projects now underway in cities (such as We Drive Solar in Utrecht, the experiment involving flexible charging being carried out by the City of Amsterdam and the European research project SEEV4City , led by the Amsterdam University of Applied Scienes).

Make your pitch

In addition to this, companies, municipal authorities and private persons will get the chance to pitch their ideas at the conference and enter into collaborations for linking solar power and electric driving.

The SEEV4-City project being carried out in five European cities resulted from the first Vehicle2Grid conference, which was held two years ago. The European Commission’s North Sea Region Programme is funding this research project through an INTERREG subsidy.

For more information, please contact Hugo Niesing, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences project manager of the SEEV4-City European research project and organiser of the Vehicle2Grid conference: 0031-6-51 73 11 90 or Professor of Energy and Innovation Robert van den Hoed: / 0031-6-46 01 68 32.