At the end of September, Smart Solar Charging was crowned winner of the prestigious ISGAN Award of Excellence by an international jury from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Rob Jetten, Minister of Climate & Energy, presented the award. With this, the collaborative project receives international recognition as the most innovative technology for a future-proof smart electricity grid with the highest potential for global application. Smart Solar Charging established a citywide bi-directional network in Utrecht that can both charge and discharge electric cars. Renewable energy can be stored in car batteries and used anytime. The bi-directional ecosystem in Utrecht now has 200 electric shared cars and 500 bi-directional charging stations. Project Smart Solar Charging is completed, but the technology is further developed at the city region level in research projects ROBUST and FLEET and on a European scale in the recently started SCALE project. This way the technology is being widely prepared for implementation.
International ministerial level
ISGAN stands for International Smart Grid Action Network and unites 26 countries from five continents and the European Commission. Ministers from the various countries work together in ISGAN to make electricity grids worldwide smarter, more sustainable and flexible. Since 2014, the organization has presented the ISGAN Award of Excellence in partnership with the CEM Empowering People Initiative (EPI) and the Global Smart Energy Federation (GSEP). This highlights projects that have the potential to actually realize a smart electricity grid worldwide. Over the years hundreds of projects from 62 countries have been submitted, so far 25 projects have been chosen. Project Smart Solar Charging was described by the jury as distinctive and exemplary. Moreover, ISGAN hopes that by sharing the project's innovative and effective approach, they can encourage the further development of smart grids worldwide.
Innovative and effective approach
Smart Solar Charging is a great example of how companies, knowledge institutions and government actually strengthen each other by working together. The technology started in the backyard of entrepreneur Robin Berg, who is developing it further through car-sharing company We Drive Solar. Grid manager Stedin played a key role in integrating the technology into the current electricity grid. Knowledge institutions Utrecht University and University of Applied Sciences Utrecht played a crucial role in research and the Municipality of Utrecht in spreading the network throughout the city. Thus, all the ingredients are present for a successful approach. And these partners will continue together in the FLEET, ROBUST and SCALE projects in which the charging technology will be further developed and made ready for implementation.
So in Utrecht, in addition to the bi-directional charging network, a network of partners has emerged who want to take this innovation further together in a long-term partnership. Project FLEET is looking at a sub aspect of electric driving, namely how flexible grid tariffs can help to relieve the electricity grid at peak times. In project ROBUST, the citywide network of Smart Solar Charging is being translated to city regions. What is unique about ROBUST is that in addition to the technology, equal attention is paid to non-technical aspects such as end users and their behavior and wishes, as well as how this technology fits within policy and regulations. The European project SCALE is currently in the start-up phase.
In the Smart Solar Charging project, Utrecht University, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and the companies LomboXnet, We Drive Solar, Smart Solar Charging BV, Stedin, Last Mile Solutions, Koolen Industries, NieuweWeme Group, Jedlix, NewSolar and Siers worked together, led by the Utrecht Sustainability Institute. The development and scale-up of bi-directional charging was made possible through collaborations with ElaadNL, Renault Group and Hyundai.
The Smart Solar Charging project was made possible thanks to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Chances for West II, which aims to strengthen regional competitiveness and increase employment. Projects FLEET and ROBUST are supported by a Topsector Energy subsidy from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (TKI Urban Energy), ROBUST specifically by the MOOI scheme. The SCALE project is made possible by the Horizon Europe program.