INEES – Energizing Electric Cars
What do electric cars have to do with Germany’s ‘Energiewende,’ the energy transition? A lot. Batteries from electric vehicles are rolling storage systems that can store renewable energy or feed it in the network as required. In collaboration with their partners VW, SMA and Fraunhofer IWES, LichtBlick has researched how this could work in the future as part of the INEES project – Intelligent Network Connection of Electric Vehicles Into the Power Grid for the Provision of System Services.
Electric Cars – Mobile Storage Systems
The idea: In terms of their storage potential, electric cars have almost unimaginable potential. If just one million electric cars were on the road in Germany, their batteries would have a storage capacity equal to all current pumped storage in Germany – around 16 gigawatt hours. This is how EVs can make an important contribution to the ‘Energiewende,’ by storing up energy when the sun or wind generate power. Furthermore, if the renewables aren’t generating enough energy, electric cars can return the stored energy to the grid. Electric cars thus stabilize the grid and ensure a secure supply of energy. The batteries need only be part of a smart network and linked to the energy markets. Working together with its project partners, LichtBlick has investigated just what this might look like. Twenty VW e-up! vehicles stood at the centre of the INEES research project, refitted and equipped with a bidirectional chargeable battery. SMA supplied a bidirectional charging station and the heart of the project, the ‘SchwarmDirigent®’, came from LichtBlick. Our IT platform linked the cars to energy markets, detected how much storage capacity the individual batteries had at which points, and gave the respective command to charge or discharge the batteries.
40 Pioneers on the INEES Field Test
That sounds pretty doable in theory, but what about in practice? In 2014/2015, we tried this out in a field test. A total of 40 participants each drove the VW e-up! for six months under real conditions. In addition to the EVs, all participants received SMA chargers and a smartphone, on which a preprogrammed app was installed. This allowed testers to determine how much of the battery’s capacity they wanted to release for charging or discharging. The participants’ mobility during the field test was of course the top priority, but a small competition also pitted the drivers against each other to see who could provide LichtBlick with the most storage capacity. The more capacity that was made available, the higher the premium that each tester could receive.
Contribute to the ‘Energiewende’ and Earn Money
The game played a key role in the project. The batteries not only have to be part of a smart network, the drivers also need to make storage capacity available. This way the batteries offset the fluctuating supply generated from renewable energies. The field test to achieve the ‘SchwarmStrom®’ premium is totally real. When EVs are integrated into the energy market, the ‘SchwarmStrom®’ energy from the batteries can be used to balance the energy reserve, for example. Of course this will be reimbursed, and LichtBlick will include the drivers in the proceeds. Because vehicles are stationary for most of the day (sometimes for 23 hours a day), this will be a way for electric vehicles to earn money. Certain obstacles need to be overcome before we can make real products from the research project. And yet there has already been progress that supports the project’s profitability, namely developments to the regulatory standards of the German Renewable Energy Act and in e-mobility (bidirectional charging).
Our findings from the INEES project
- Short-term fluctuations in the grid can be evened out with a pool of electric cars
- Participants have provided on average of 66% of their battery capacity for charging or discharging
- 34% has been reserved as a buffer for spontaneous journeys
- A ‘SchwarmStrom’ premium that starts at EUR 15 a month can act as an incentive to designate battery capacity for the integration
- Annual payouts of an average of EUR 550 to EUR 630 per driver are possible in the future if technical developments and legal and regulatory advancements are considered. After costs (for the measuring systems and depreciation of the batteries, for example) are deducted, a profit of between EUR 145 and EUR 410 on average remains possible every year
Find out more about our IT platform ‘SchwarmDirigent®’ at: www.lichtblick.com