Vehicle-Grid-Integration projects by TMHVehicle-Grid-Integration projects by TMH

Munich, 19 June 2020

The energy future at The Mobility House began with a cup of coffee. However, the electricity for this did not come from a distant power station – but from an electric car in the underground car park. In 2015 in the first German vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot project ever, the technology company used the battery of a Nissan Leaf as an additional energy source for the home network of its building. This was not enough for all consumers in the office, but it was certainly enough for the hot drinks of the employees. Even back then, Thomas Raffeiner, founder, and CEO of The Mobility House, said: "Everyone is talking about climate change, we are doing something about it. This project shows that we can speed up the ‘Energiewende’ (energy transition) and that a carbon-free future is within close reach: The car supplies both households and offices with electricity and enables independence from the electricity grid.”

In the years that followed, a lot has happened in terms of V2G, and the topic has also gained importance today due to Tesla's recent announcement: The company is planning and developing new battery cells that can last for millions of miles – an incredible capacity that can also be used for the indicated V2G/power market applications. 

In the field of vehicle-grid-integration (VGI/V2G), The Mobility House has established itself as a popular partner for intelligent charging and grid integration  of electric cars and their batteries – also known as sector coupling – and has already implemented many projects on a large scale. 

Intelligent charging is easy on the wallet and takes the strain off the grid

As early as 2015, The Mobility House, together with Renault, pushed the intelligent, grid-friendly and unidirectional charging process – also known as VGI. The "Smart Charging" software – a forerunner of the now widely sold charging and energy management system ChargePilot – was developed for this purpose. Price fluctuations on the electricity market were thus automatically taken into account – to the financial benefit of e-car drivers. The system's charging plan was optimized to ensure that charging was always as cheap as possible when electricity prices on the wholesale market were low, for example at night or when there was a surplus of renewable energy on particularly windy or sunny days. That way, electricity costs of the participating Renault drivers could approximately be halved. 

The electric car as a power plant for grid stabilization 

The Mobility House, together with its partner and electricity provider Enervie and the transmission system operator Amprion, succeeded in January 2018 in the most technologically and regulatory challenging application to date. Supported by Nissan, who had once again provided a Nissan Leaf, the complete system consisting of software, charging station and vehicle was prequalified for primary power regulation. This was done in accordance with all requirements of the European transmission system operators and integrated for the first time as a control power plant in the German electricity grid at the Enervie site in Hagen. If required, the power generator takes up excess energy from the grid within seconds or feeds it back again to keep the grid frequency at a stable level. This proves how V2G can contribute to stabilizing the power grid as an innovative solution. Not to mention the fact that this service is also financially worthwhile and the Nissan Leaf can "earn" money as part of the energy market: For example, if you offer eight kilowatts of power per week with the vehicle, you can earn between 500 and 1000 euros per year.

A CO2-free island 

On a small scale, The Mobility House has already realized and tested a major project in 2019 on the Portuguese Madeira-island of Porto Santo – which aims to be completely CO2-free in the future. Once again electric cars and their integration into the overall system play a decisive role. Together with Renault and the local energy provider Empresa de Electricidade da Madeira EEM, The Mobility House is working on how a clever combination of photovoltaics, wind power, electric cars and second life batteries can make the home of a good 6000 people and destination of tens of thousands of tourists per year free of fossil fuels.

o achieve this goal, The Mobility House combined the charging and energy management systems ChargePilot, which were used for all charging points on the island, to an intelligent "marketplace". This optimizes the interaction between all players involved. Unidirectional electric cars charge primarily when renewable electricity is available in abundance. Stationary second-life battery storage systems and bidirectional electric cars stabilize the grid by returning their energy to the grid when needed. This is the first project worldwide in which these three forms of flexibility – intelligent charging, V2G and second-life battery storage – are controlled intelligently by a central software technology. This resulted in already improving the integration of renewable energies into the power grid by 10% with a good 20 electric vehicles.

V2G as a virtual power line and to avoid grid bottlenecks

In another pilot project with the transmission system operator TenneT and electric car manufacturer Nissan, The Mobility House showed how grid bottlenecks – especially the notorious north-south route – can be avoided. The problem: Due to the decentralized feed-in of renewable energies, which in 2019 already accounted for 46 percent of Germany's power generation, transport bottlenecks in the grid are becoming increasingly frequent. The solution: if wind farms in the Baltic Sea generate too much energy for the electricity highway to southern Germany, it can temporarily be stored in electric cars in northern Germany. Electricity shortages in southern Germany, on the other hand, can be compensated with available energy from bidirectional electric car batteries (V2G) instead of resorting to fossil-fuel peak load power plants. This increases the use of renewable energies while at the same time avoiding the undesirable shutdown of wind power in the north, which results in high costs of several hundred million euros/year and considerably high additional CO2 emissions. 

An electrified football stadium

Since the end of 2019, visitors of the Johan Cruijff ArenA – home of Ajax Amsterdam and venue for high-profile concert events – are able to actively contribute to the stadium's emergency power supply with their electric car by integrating the vehicle into the stadium's power grid. For this purpose, bidirectional charging stations were set up enabling arena visitors to not only charge their car, but to also return energy to the stadium in an emergency situation. This process is controlled intelligently by the charging and energy management system ChargePilot. Here, the electric cars supplement the in 2018 implemented stationary battery storage system consisting of 148 new and used vehicle batteries, which is also available as an emergency power supply in the event of a power outage (blackout) and replaces the old diesel generators. Further applications are to be implemented gradually and support the ambitions of the city of Amsterdam to become a V2G hotspot of Europe.

V2G conquers Asia

The Mobility House has extended its pioneering role in the vehicle-to-grid sector to the Asian market since 2021: a first test project, which the company is implementing together with SP-Group as an investor, will contribute to the power grid stabilisation and grid optimisation through peak shaving in Singapore. It is an important step, as Singapore plans to phase out internal combustion vehicles by 2040, which will massively accelerate the introduction of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure - towards the climate goals and the establishment of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. As pioneers in Southeast Asia, the two companies are now working together to efficiently use the energy stored in electric vehicles to create a more reliable power grid for the more than 600,000 vehicles.

VGI as a concept of the future 

The importance of VGI and V2G for the drive and energy transition has not only been emphasized by various associations and think tanks such as DENA, Agora, BNE but also by the German Association of the Automotive Industry: In a position paper, the VDA refers to the potential of electric cars to feed back energy to the grid both in the direct environment of the vehicle user (e.g. in connection with photovoltaic system) and in the future in their contribution to grid stabilization and sector coupling in the course of the energy turnaround (‘Energiewende’). "V2G could make a useful contribution to the optimization of the grid design as a supplement to the necessary grid expansion, without the customer having to sacrifice the desired battery charge at departure time", the paper states. The VDA – like The Mobility House – and the National Platform for Electric Mobility NPM are therefore committed to helping V2G achieve a breakthrough. 

Tesla on the way to the energy market 

The topic is also highly explosive in terms of industrial policy, since it involves two German key industries, the German automotive industry and the many market players in the renewable sector, which have created hundreds of thousands of jobs in recent years. It is important to use this pioneering position as a new export hit and to position Germany in the growth field of decarbonization. 

Tesla has understood and lived the relationship between cars and energy from the very beginning. As early as 2014, J. B. Straubl, co-founder of Tesla Motors and Chief Technical Officer said: “We are an energy innovation company as much as a car company.” Latest announcements prove this to be true and they now create a full picture. In addition to the planned million-mile battery, Tesla's battery storage business has proven the added value of storage in the energy market with the highly profitable 100 MW battery in Australia. In addition, Tesla has developed a software called Autobidder that intelligently integrates batteries into the energy grid – similar to the software by The Mobility House. Tesla has also applied for a utility license in the UK to operate in the market itself. V2G – regardless of whether the latest analyses of the Tesla Onboard Charger are right or wrong – is the next logical step. 

Intelligent sector coupling is key 

A look ten years into the future – with the expected high registration figures – illustrates the immense potential of the technology and shows how the energy and drive transition are mutually dependent: As a measure to combat the climate crisis, the German government has announced a target of seven to ten million electric cars on the roads by 2030. By intelligently integrating them into the energy world, their storage capacity can avoid up to 39 million tons of CO2 emissions in the German grid alone. This is 17 million tons more than planned without V2G. The transport sector would thus already achieve a good two-thirds of its CO2 reduction targets by 2030 as defined in the climate protection plan and at the same time make a significant contribution to the more efficient use of renewable energies. As the pilot project with TenneT has shown, the grid integration of electric cars would also make it possible to reduce the costly grid expansion of north-south routes, which experts estimate to be in the mid double-digit billion range.

Whether coffee, a football stadium or an entire island, all of The Mobility House's projects to date have one thing in common: they are proof that electric cars can make a sensible and efficient contribution to relieving and stabilizing the power grid. They promote the integration of renewable forms of energy into the grid, reduce CO2 emissions and thus make a fundamental contribution to the energy transition. V2G works technically and the added values are obvious. What is still missing in the current situation are the regulatory framework and more active market players. An intelligent sector coupling that is being tackled now can help to accelerate the market penetration of electric mobility and the integration of renewable energies at lower overall costs. And all of this can happen without putting an additional burden on the taxpayers, who can even earn money from it: by turning their electric car into an active part of the grid.

Overview of realized projects:

Projekt Partner Erfolg

V2G / V1G (SP)

SP Group (former Singapore Power) Power grid stabilisation / grid optimisation through PeakShaving
Vehicle-to-Home (DE) Nissan V2H / Self-consumption optimization
Smart Charging (DE) GETEC Energie, Groupe Renault

Intraday arbitrage / Intelligent purchase of electricity / Reduction of electricity costs

V2G primary power control (DE) Amprion, ENERVIE, Nissan

Power grid stabilization / Frequency containment reserve (first time TSO/ENTSO-E tested prequalification of an electric vehicle)

Smart Fossil Free Island (PRT) Groupe Renault, EEM

Power grid stabilization / Balancing energy and optimized integration of renewable energy production

Electric cars as power supply Amsterdam stadium (NL) Nissan, AKEF,BAM, Interreg, Johan Cruijff ArenA

Power grid stabilization / Balancing energy / emergency power supply

V2G Redispatch (DE) Nissan, TenneT Power grid stabilization through bidirectional charging / Redispatch