“Battery on Wheels”: e-SolCar, the integration of electric vehicles into the power grid

Researchers in eastern Germany have achieved a breakthrough innovation by regulating the charging process of electric cars. This has enabled the energy to be returned from the car battery back to the electric grid.

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Cars of the e-SolCar project at their charging station at Brandenburg Technical University (BTU) Cottbus-Senftenberg. © BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg Cars of the e-SolCar project at their charging station at Brandenburg Technical University (BTU) Cottbus-Senftenberg. © BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg

" Our e-SolCar project shows how renewable energies and emobility could be combined in future SMART Grids. "

Dr.-Ing. Artur Napierala, Project Coordinator

The project e-SolCar brings together researchers from the Brandenburg Technical University (BTU) Cottbus-Senftenberg, from the energy company Vattenfall Europe Generation AG and from German E-Cars R&D, a specialist in the field of electric mobility. Their combined expertise has enabled the project to move forward towards the goal of sustainable mobility.

Fighting climate change

Electric cars powered by electricity obtained from renewable resources, such as solar or wind power, are carbon neutral. However, they still have disadvantages compared to traditional cars, for example higher prices and a lower range. Within the e-SolCar project, usability and lifespan are studied with a test fleet of 45 e-cars. The ultimate goal of the project is to bring the cars onto the market.

Bidirectional charging

Furthermore, the cars might solve one of the most important problems concerning renewable energies: electricity from renewable energy sources has to be used whenever it is produced, which might not necessarily be when it is most needed. An electric grid with a high proportion of renewable energy is therefore often subject to high power variations. The cars of the e-SolCar project could be able to compensate at least part of this fluctuation by functioning with decentralised electricity storage devices.

To do so, the cars have to be capable of bidirectional charging. This means that the energy stored in the car battery can be fed back into the power grid when needed. In this process, communication between the central control system, the charging infrastructure and the electric car allows for a continuous flow of charging data. Based on this information, the central control system regulates the charging and discharging procedure - an innovation and breakthrough in the field of electricity research.

E-SolCar also offers more immediate benefits for Brandenburg. As a consequence of the project, German E-Cars R&D has settled in the region and the project has directly generated seven new jobs.

Total investment and EU funding

The total investment for the project “Electro-mobility: e-SolCar” comes down to EUR 9 233 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 5 698 000 through the “Brandenburg” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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