“Anyone with an electric car should be able to earn money on the electricity market”

Mobility’s electric vehicles are designed not only to reduce the impact on the climate, but also on the power supply. Thanks to projects such as “V2X Suisse,” consumers are increasingly becoming active participants in the electricity market themselves.

Text   Daniel Schriber

22.09.2023

  • Sustainability

Mobility has big plans: the entire fleet – currently around 3’000 vehicles – will be electric by 2030 at the latest. As pleasing as the trend towards e-mobility in Switzerland is, the associated challenges must not be underestimated. After all, the more electric vehicles there are, the greater the demand for electricity. And the greater the demand, the harder it becomes to ensure grid stability – something that’s essential for a reliable and secure national supply.

This is where the “V2X Suisse” project launched in September 2022  comes in. The idea: electric cars don’t just consume electricity. Thanks to bidirectional charge stations, they can feed energy back into the grid. For the technical implementation of the project, Mobility has brought on board various partners from industry, including Zurich-based tiko. “Since its founding in 2012, tiko has pursued the approach of connecting decentralised electrical devices and batteries and using them to stabilise the grids,” explains Stefan Dörig, Head of Regulatory Affairs. “V2X technology is nothing radically new for us.” What is new for Dörig and his team is that electric cars from a car sharing company act as mini power plants. This is exciting, not least because Mobility has a fleet of vehicles at its disposal. “The fact that the electric vehicles mean we can use assets that already exist makes V2X economically as well as ecologically attractive. Mobility is once again demonstrating its innovative spirit,” says Dörig.

tiko providing grid stability

Aby Chacko, Head of Energy Services at tiko, is very involved in the project: “The challenges in terms of energy supply will not lessen in the future – on the contrary. Electromobility can be an important part of the solution.” This is partly because cars in Switzerland remain parked for an average of 23 hours a day. Thanks to V2X, these stationary vehicles become power banks that can be connected to form a large energy storage facility. This allows network operators and households to obtain their electricity from the electric cars at peak times; the cars can then be charged later at a cheaper rate. “Our job at tiko is to keep an eye on offer and demand and to draw electricity or feed it into the grid as required,” explains Aby Chacko. This finds tiko making an important contribution to maintaining grid stability – and thus also to protecting against possible power shortages. One year after the launch of the pilot project, Abi Chacko is positive. “We wanted to show that grid stabilisation in Switzerland is technically feasible with V2X electric cars. We’ve managed to do so.”

Three success factors

According to Stefan Dörig, three conditions must be met for V2X electromobility to become established in the long term: “First of all, access to electromobility has to become easier.” To achieve this, the (charging) infrastructure in particular needs further expansion. As a second point, he mentions the costs: “The more V2X vehicles and charge stations there are, the more attractive the technology.” By way of example, Stefan Dörig cites the development of photovoltaic technology, which is cheaper than ever before. “The third point concerns the regulation of the electricity market.” It is still (too) strongly oriented towards traditional models: large power plants that produce electricity, and households that use it. It’s precisely this which is evolving. “Thanks to projects such as “V2X Suisse”, consumers are increasingly becoming active participants in the electricity market.” Policies must take account of this development.

Final spurt over the winter months

Despite the challenges, there’s no doubt in Dörig’s mind: “Together with Mobility and other project partners from industry, we’ve been able to demonstrate over the past twelve months that electric vehicles can be used for storing energy efficiently.” The project’s being extended by six months and continued in the coming winter in a bid to gain more experience. According to Dörig, V2X is a compelling technology that holds great promise for the future: “Our vision is for every e-car owner to be able to earn money on the electricity market and at the same time contribute to the energy transition – without any loss of convenience.”

Discussing the future of e-mobility at tiko Energy Solutions’ head office in Zurich: Stefan Dörig (centre) in conversation with author Daniel Schriber (right).

The “V2X Suisse” project

The “V2X Suisse” project was launched in Bern on 6 September 2022. Since then, the project participants have been investigating how electric cars can be used as storage devices in order to close gaps in the power supply and improve grid stability. Seven companies are behind the project, with Mobility taking the lead and providing 50 Honda e cars stationed at 40 of its locations throughout Switzerland. These electric vehicles will feed electricity from their batteries back into the grid when they’re not being driven.

In addition to Mobility, the following companies are involved in the project: car manufacturer Honda, software developer sun2wheel, charge station developer EVTEC and aggregator tiko, with scientific support provided by novatlantis in collaboration with the ETH Federal Institute of Technology. The project is supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy’s pilot and demonstration programme.

Images Copyright: Patrick Besch

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