Volkswagen Explores V2G Tech Integration With Belgian Utility Operator
Volkswagen is teaming up with Belgian utility operator Elia Group to explore methods to integrate EV charging into the electric grid.
Last month, German auto giant Volkswagen signed a memorandum of understanding with Elia Group, a Belgian electric transmission operator, to explore ways to integrate EV charging into grid systems. Focusing on vehicle-to-grid technology (V2G), the two companies envision a scenario where EV drivers can charge their vehicles with renewable energy resources and inject the stored electricity back into the grid when demand is high.
Elia CEO Chris Peeters, Elli CEO Elke Temme and 50Hertz CEO Stefan Kapferer signed the memorandum of understanding in Berlin last month. Image used courtesy of Volkswagen
The partnership involves Elia Group’s re.alto startup and Volkswagen Group’s charging and energy sub-brand, Elli. Founded in 2018, Elli markets several charging products for consumer and enterprise customers, including wall boxes, fleet charging services, fast-charging stations, and a mobile app facilitating access to over 340,000 public charging stations across Europe. Re.alto spun off from Elia Group in 2019 to build digital marketplaces, data connectivity, and application programming interfaces.
Over the next few years, Elli and Elia Group will pursue use cases and demonstrations across four areas: price signals/incentives for customers to use their flexible assets for decentralized storage capacity; market design and helping customers choose their energy suppliers; reliable vehicle data for power systems; and data security and safe connectivity.
Elli CEO Elke Temme cited the key benefits of using EV batteries as mobile power banks: Renewable energy can be stored and used to improve efficiency and grid stability, and customers can earn revenue with vehicle-to-grid services.
For Elia Group, the deal means increased exposure in Europe’s growing EV charging market, thereby supporting its existing energy-as-a-service business.
The Brussels-based company is one of Europe’s leading transmission system operators, providing service to its home country through its Elia Group entity and to Germany through its 50Hertz brand. Over the last few years, Elia Group has expanded into the clean energy market through WindGrid, an offshore wind-focused entity, and re.alto, an energy data startup launched in 2019. The latter brand will play a role in the Volkswagen partnership, bringing its expertise in energy asset integration software and application programming interfaces.
In their announcement, the companies said the memorandum of understanding strengthens the existing relationship between Eli and 50Hertz, the German subsidiary of Elia Group, which teamed up in 2020 to conduct operating reserve market projects.
Volkswagen’s EV Charging Strategy
Known for its iconic style-centered cars, Volkswagen expanded its portfolio to EVs in 2016. It now offers full-electric models of its e-Golf and e-up lineups. In 2020, the company launched its I.D. series of EVs based on its modular electric drive matrix platform. The series includes the ID.3 hatchback, the ID.4 SUV, the ID.5 coupe crossover SUV, the ID.6 crossover, and the ID.Buzz van.
The company is working on growing its charging network, planning to add 45,000 high-power charging points across Europe, the U.S., and China by 2025. In April, it teamed up with BP to roll out fast charging stations in Europe that don’t require a high-power grid connection and can be connected directly to a low-voltage network. The partners plan to add up to 4,000 stations by the end of 2024.
Volkswagen plans to add 45,000 high-power charging stations across its key markets by 2025. Image used courtesy of Volkswagen
Volkswagen is also growing its presence in the U.S. EV market. Last March, it committed $7.1 billion to boost its North American product lineup, research and development, and manufacturing over the next five years. The company aims to add 25 new EV models by 2030, with fully-electric cars accounting for 55% of its U.S. sales.
It’s also building out a sizable fast-charging network under its Electrify America subsidiary, targeting over 10,000 chargers across 1,800 locations in the U.S. and Canada by 2026. In June, Electrify America’s valuation hit $2.45 billion after a $450 million investment from Siemens.
According to Volkswagen Group’s half-year financial report (released in July), deliveries of electric vehicles have increased to 27% this year. However, deliveries to all customers declined by 22.2% across all regions due to parts supply shortages and pandemic challenges.
Featured image used courtesy of Adobe Stock