Thanks to electric vehicles becoming not only more popular but more necessary, automakers have been trying to figure out how to better the electric charging infrastructure. Charge times and charging availability are the biggest issues with electric vehicles, forcing automakers to try and get creative with making charging easier and more convenient for owners. So Audi is now working on a pilot project with households in the Ingolstadt and Zurich region of Germany, in conjunction with other partners, to help create a smart energy networked grid in suburban areas.
This involves combining various sizes of photovoltaic systems with stationary storage batteries. The control software by the Zurich start-up company Ampard distributes the solar power intelligently based on the current or plannable demand from car, household and heating system. A unique feature of the pilot project is that it also interacts with the power grid: Over a built-in communication interface, all systems are interconnected to form a virtual power plant, and constitute a smart grid.
The connected home storage devices can provide what is known as balancing power. In other words, they balance out the fluctuations between power generation and consumption, and stabilize the grid frequency by temporarily storing smaller amounts of energy in stationary units at short notice. This optimizes internal consumption: Operators of photovoltaic systems increase their proportion of own-use solar power while cutting their power procurement costs.
“We are looking at electric mobility in the context of an overall energy supply system that is increasingly based on renewables. We are playing a pioneering role with the prequalification of the balancing-power market – enabling producers to feed power into the grid, as part of the pilot project. That is now for the first time also possible down at the level of individual households, which helps balance the entire power grid,” remarked Dr. Hagen Seifert, Head of Sustainable Product Concepts at Audi.
Audi is looking to not just develop electric vehicles but everything necessary for electric vehicles to be accessible and successful. This new smart energy grid pilot project is just the beginning of that.