Renault and startups usher in electric mobility

Published by on 11.30.2018 - 5 min

The large-scale unrolling of electric mobility requires the creation of a true ecosystem that is capable of intelligently controlling energy needs that are constantly increasing. Convinced that this major task calls for a collective response, Renault is increasing its number of projects with the sector’s cutting-edge players.

Today, it still represents only a small part of overall electricity consumption, but what about tomorrow? By gradually becoming an integral part of the public’s everyday lives, the electric car will bring to light new ways of thinking about the distribution, storage and use of electricity. Its battery and connected capabilities will allow it to play a much more complex role than that of simple energy consumer.

By connecting it to a smart power grid, you could, for example, set the car to prioritise recharging during the times when renewable energy is being produced and electricity is available in abundance. On the flip side, why not use its battery to restore energy in the event of a deficit, in order to help the overall equilibrium of the grid? A European pioneer of electric vehicles, Renault has long recognised this promising potential: its goal now is to contribute to realising it.

It’s an impossible task to tackle alone, even when you’re the market leader! Renault has therefore established a collaborative approach involving the various players working on the different issues of energy transition. Even as it cooperates with public authorities and big industry names, Groupe Renault has also developed a special relationship with both startups and companies already established in the sector. From these partnerships have come solutions tested under real conditions to prepare their implementation on a larger scale. Let’s take a look!

Jedlix: a smart charging pioneer

Z.E. Smart Charge infographic

At the end of 2017, for example, Renault announced a 25% stake in the Dutch startup Jedlix. This young disruptor, named after Anyos Jedlik, the inventor of the dynamo, is working on the matter of charging mentioned above. “Our promise is to make it so that every electric car uses renewable energy sources”, the company says on its website.

Jedlix and Renault have thus worked together to create an application that can communicate with the electric car to start or stop charging based on information transmitted from the electricity supplier. As for the driver, all he has to do is indicate the hour he wishes to use the car and the software handles the rest.

This partnership with Jedlix has already allowed Renault to offer smart charging to ZOE drivers in the Netherlands via the Z.E. Smart Charge app, which will soon be available in France.

We Drive Solar: local, solar energy

Utrecht electric cars charging stations

Integrating the production of renewable energy will allow the concept of smart distribution to be pushed a step further: that is the thinking behind Renault’s participation in the We Drive Solar programme, implemented in a residential zone of the small city of Utrecht, about 50 kilometres from Amsterdam. With the support of startup LomboxNet, the project consists of developing a true Smart Grid on a neighbourhood-wide scale with shared self-service electric cars, smart charging stations and solar panels installed on the roofs of buildings in the area.

Drawing on the specialised knowledge of all parties involved, the programme aims specifically to show that it is possible to strive for a balance between electricity supply and demand, while reducing the use of carbon-producing energies.

The benefits of this approach are not limited to recharging vehicles: the electric produced from renewable sources and stored inside the cars can also be redistributed to the grid when needed. This technology that allows you to alternate between charging and discharging according to the demands of your car and the network is called Vehicle To Grid, a term sometimes abbreviated as V2G.

Powervault: giving a battery a second life at home

In all these scenarios, the car’s battery is recharged when energy is the least expensive and as low-carbon as possible. This creates a reserve of clean electricity that can be drawn upon at times when high demand would lead to higher utility rates. But why limit ourselves to what a car can store?

Founded in 2012, the British start-up Powervault is developing a battery designed to store household energy. It is mainly intended for households with solar panels, as the electricity they produce is very rarely consumed at that moment: with children at school and parents at work, the house is empty more often than not when the sun is at its highest point! Powervault therefore proposes that photovoltaic electricity be stored throughout the day in a battery that will return it once night has fallen, to heat up dinner and keep the living room aglow. And what better way to do this than to use the battery from an electric vehicle?

Since 2017, Renault and Powervault have been working hand-in-hand on this project: Groupe Renault has proposed that the start-up transform a battery that can no longer meet the requirements of powering an electric car into a domestic depot.

“Offering the battery of an electric vehicle a second life not only allows it to be used longer before it is recycled, it also means that consumers can save money. It’s a win-win-win: for the owners of electric vehicles, for homeowners and for the planet”, Nicolas Schottey says proudly, Program Director of New Business Energy at Groupe Renault.

Building solutions that offer threefold wins: that’s what meeting the challenges of electric mobility means!

Copyrights : Powervault, Renault Communication, Renault Netherlands

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