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As the proportion of wind and solar energy in the electricity mix grows, the basic dilemma associated with these two renewable energy sources remains: firstly, the problem that electricity cannot always be supplied when it is required and secondly, on sunny days and in high-wind conditions, there is often a lack of buffer capacities for storing the energy generated.
This dilemma is being addressed by a forward-looking research project between Hager Group and AUDI AG using a vehicle prototype based on the AUDI e-tron, which in addition to being used as an all-electric vehicle on the road, can, thanks to Hager components, also be used as a mobile energy storage system. In the future, the bi-directional charging technology used would enable e-vehicles to significantly improve the energy balance of their owners.
Great potential in electric vehicle batteries
The powerful electric car batteries in the AUDI can not only be used to store energy for the vehicle, they can also serve as fundamental components of the energy grid. “A vehicle battery can store about as much energy as an average household needs in a week,” explains Ulrich Reiner, an e-mobility expert from Corporate Strategy & Innovations at Hager Group. “This means that e-vehicles have the potential to provide us with huge decentralised storage capacities, which we urgently need for the green energy transition.”
Decentralised in this context means that the vehicle energy storage systems can theoretically be connected to the electricity network via any home connection. Property owners who generate solar power on their roof can store it locally in their car and return it to the home when required. This is what the abbreviation v2h stands for: Vehicle to Home. Hager Group subsidiary E3/DC has spent years perfecting the necessary basic technology for this in the photovoltaic home power plant.
Energy exchange with Hager Group solutions
Bi-directional charging – in other words, charging that works two ways, from the home to the car and back again – utilises several components from Hager Group portfolio in addition to an electric car such as the AUDI e-tron. The above-mentioned home power plant serves as the base using direct current TriLINK technology from E3/DC coupled with a smart home energy management system that protects the vehicle and home power grids from overload, as well as a Hager charging station.
And how does this all work?
Granted: There's a lot of technology involved here. That's why, together with our colleagues from Audi, we have created a video explaining exactly how this technology works as simply as possible. In a way that even your grandma can understand!
Energy self-sufficiency is gaining in importance
This form of energy self-sufficiency (that is, independence from external energy suppliers) is becoming an increasingly important issue during the energy transition. More and more homeowners are now turning into prosumers – that is, producers and consumers – of self-generated electricity.
Ulrich Reiner is certain that, “In the future, increasing numbers of property owners will have a battery in the basement, in the garage or immediately outside the home for storing self-generated energy from the in-house photovoltaic system, for example.” The technology developed by Hager as part of the joint project with AUDI AG has increased available battery capacity significantly, offering much greater potential for optimising personal consumption of photovoltaic-generated electricity and achieving a self-sufficient, secure energy supply. The home power plant can already supply buildings with electricity completely autonomously – for example, overnight following a sunny day or even during a power outage. Coupled with a vehicle battery storage system, homeowners will thus be able to manage self-sufficiently for days on end, while at the same time relieving strain on the electricity network.
Renewable energy gaining momentum
In the first half of 2020, the proportion of green electricity as a percentage of the total electricity mix in Germany exceeded 50 percent for the first time. This is a new record and demonstrates the dire need for intelligent solutions for renewable energy, such as those being developed by AUDI AG and Hager Group.