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The world's first vehicle-to-grid ecosystem

Mat Castle's picture
Head of Engagement Axis

My initial career was in the sustainable energy sector. I now work in the disruptive collaboration tech space, with a big focus on reducing the carbon footprint of collaboration in the business...

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The city of Utrecht is aiming to become the first in the world to create an ecosystem for bidirectional charging. Quick primer: vehicle-to-grid systems allow cars to function as storage units and load balancers for renewable energy sources like wind and solar. By charging at night when demand is low, and sending power back to the grid when demand is high, electric vehicles act as buffers that balance electricity demand. They're also able to store excess energy produced on days that are super sunny or extra windy, compensating for solar and wind power's natural fluctuations.

Back to Utrecht — two years ago, the city started commissioning bidirectional charging stations, and now has nearly 500 of them. That network is one of the reasons Hyundai recently chose the city to test its first bidirectional car, the IONIQ 5. The South Korean brand is partnering with Dutch car sharing platform We Drive Solar, with plans for 150 shared IONIQs to be zooming across Utrecht by early 2022. (On a smaller scale, Renault worked with We Drive Solar to test its own bidirectional prototype in the city.) 

The International Energy Agency just underscored the urgency of abandoning fossil fuels if the world is to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. In addition to embracing renewables, the IEA set a goal of 60% of global car sales being electric by 2030. Utrecht's initiative demonstrates how intertwined those goals are. And how crucial both active governments and innovative entrepreneurs are for phasing out fossil fuels. Other cities, auto manufacturers and car sharing platforms to follow, asap?

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 3, 2021

In addition to embracing renewables, the IEA set a goal of 60% of global car sales being electric by 2030.

Part of this also needs to be mode-shift, particularly in rapidly expanding economies like China and India-- things like moving fossil-fueled trips to things like public transit or electric scooters / mopeds. We need to rethink how we get people from point A to point B (and how urban centers are designed) so the complete reliance on cars (ICE or EV) sees some serious dents. 

Mat Castle's picture
Mat Castle on Jun 4, 2021

Totally agree with all your comment Matt, especially how urban centres are designed.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Jun 4, 2021

Mat, That is quite an interesting place. They already seem to be on the leading edge. This project will show how great V2G can be.

QUOTE=Utrecht is host to Utrecht University, the largest university in the Netherlands, as well as several other institutions of higher education. Due to its central position within the country, it is an important transport hub for both rail and road transport; the busiest train station in the Netherlands, Utrecht Central, is in the city of Utrecht. It has the second highest number of cultural events in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam.[9] In 2012, Lonely Planet included Utrecht in the top 10 of the world's unsung places.[10]

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