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Porto Santo, the first autonomous “smart island”

Published by on 08.16.2019 - 3 min

Electric vehicles, smart charging, vehicle-to-grid and stationary energy storage systems: Groupe Renault and its technologies lie at the heart of the Smart Fossil Free Island experiment, which has been underway for a year on the Portuguese island of Porto Santo. Rui Rebelo, the CEO of Empresa de Eletricidade da Madeira, explains this initiative for our series The Drive To Better.

In March 2018, for a period of over five days, Portugal was able to meet electricity demands by relying 100% on renewable energy sources. That same year, the regional government of Madeira and the Empresa de Electricidade da Madeira, the local energy provider, teamed up with Groupe Renault, Europe’s electric mobility leader, to launch the Smart Fossil Free Island  programme. As part of this approach, the local government has set energy independence, the reduction of polluting gas emissions and the development of renewable energy sources on the island as its goals, all in the name of promoting its energy transition.

As a clear symbol of these ambitions, electric mobility is at the centre of the plan. That’s why 14 ZOEs and 6 Kangoo Z.E.s were made available to volunteers for their everyday needs, with a network of 40 charging stations installed by The Mobility House. This innovative programme relies mainly on a smart grid which, for the first time, has brought together three different cutting-edge technologies.

An intelligent electric ecosystem for optimised renewable energy production

porto santo portugal

By using electric vehicles, the Smart Fossil Free Island experiment connects three different approaches: smart charging, reversible charging and the stationary energy battery storage systems.

Smart charging modulates the recharging of a vehicle based on how much electricity is available on the grid. It is at its peak when supply exceeds demand, during spikes in renewable energy production, for example. It can also be interrupted when demand for electricity exceeds the supply that the grid is able to provide.

An additional step is two-way, or reversible, smart charging. During electricity consumption peaks, electric vehicles can inject a portion of the energy stored in their batteries back into the grid, thus helping it achieve a state of balance. That’s the idea behind vehicle-to-grid (V2G). Two prototypes equipped with this technology are currently being tested on the island and have been since March.

The last piece of the puzzle is stationary energy storage systems. Old batteries from Renault electric vehicles are given a second life as temporary storage cells for the surplus energy produced by the island’s solar and wind power plants. It’s another way of dealing with the intermittent nature of renewable energy.

One year after the launch of this initiative, the 224 users of the electric vehicle fleet have covered a combined 212,520 km. What’s next? Reaching 100 vehicles in circulation by 2020, which would be 10% of the vehicles on the island. For Groupe Renault, it is also important to capitalise on this significant experience by expanding this all-encompassing model to other islands or areas in transition.


Copyrights : Renault Communication, Hadrien PICARD, LCCD TULIPES & CIE


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