Utrecht embarks on solar EV charging system

Solar charging system for Renault Zoe

A project involving Renault and the Dutch city of Utrecht intends to charge a network of cars using solar power and feeding excess energy back to the grid.

Renault and its Dutch economic partners, Utrecht City Council, ElaadNL and LomboXnet, have signed a letter of intent to develop a Franco-Dutch framework of smart solar charging systems for electric vehicles.

The signature ceremony was attended by Renault’s Laurens van den Acker, SVP Corporate Design and Guillaume Berthier, EV sales Director in the presence of the king and queen of the Netherlands, the Dutch minister of trade, Lilianne Ploumen and the French Foreign Affairs Ministry’s secretary of state for European affairs, Harlem Désir.

Smart charging systems

According to the letter of intent, the city of Utrecht could be the testing ground for the solar smart-charge project. Renault would supply a fleet of 150 Renault ZOE models throughout 2017 to the city. ElaadNL would handle the management of the infrastructures and the smart-charging standard and LomboXnet would take charge of installing the network of unique public charging terminals powered by a 44 kW grid connection. Grid operator Stedin would be involved to balance the supply and demand of the grid.

Phase one of the project would involve setting up 1,000 smart solar-charge stations powered by 10,000 photovoltaic panels in the Utrecht region. Infrastructure installation would run side by side with development of a car-share service of electric cars, powered by renewable energy, for Utrecht residents. The Renault ZOE R.Access connectivity and 22 kW charging make it ideal for car-share and smart charging applications.

Phase two of the project would proceed with the partners developing a vehicle-to-grid ecosystem with the network of solar chargers capable of both charging the electric cars and of feeding energy stored in the batteries of parked cars onto the grid to meet demand peaks. This could be the starting point for a new system storing renewably sourced energy.

The energy transition

Through its work on EVs and their batteries, Renault contributes to the energy transition in the automotive industry by reducing the use of fossil fuels. Through its smart charging experiments, Renault is increasing the proportion of renewable energy EVs in use. One of the goals of the Smart Solar Charging Project is to make a substantial contribution to reducing the carbon footprint not only of the auto industry but of all sectors consuming electricity.

ElaadNL researches and tests the possibilities for smart charging on behalf of the dutch grid operators. With innovative techniques, ElaadNL can charge electric cars in a smart way, exactly at the right moment. With Smart Charging, the abundance of electricity from the sun and wind is used to charge cars.

In June 2015, LomboXnet introduced a charging station in Utrecht making Smart Solar Charging accessible worldwide. This charging station can charge and discharge (vehicle-to-grid, V2G), establishing the foundation for a new local energy system based on local energy sources and local storage. The unique charging station is being developed by a consortium of GE, Stedin, Vidyn, Last Mile Solutions, Utrecht Municipality and led by LomboXnet.

By implementing the vehicle-to-grid project on a regional scale, the region of Utrecht is creating a large living lab for innovative smart grid systems. This show case implements not only green power, but ensures also clean air zero emissions in the city and region of Utrecht. Thus, Utrecht is making way with Healthy Urban living.

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