Instead of taxing a local grid, Audi’s cars could help bolster it.
Back when plug-in hybrids were just beginning to appear, there was some concern that adding a whole bunch of cars to the electric grid could overtax it and cause problems. Now, Audi’s built a system where its cars do precisely the opposite.
Audi will kick off a new pilot project called Audi Smart Energy Network in both Ingolstadt and Zurich. The program combines stationary storage batteries with differently sized solar installations. Control software distributes the solar energy based on how much it thinks the car or house will need.
The idea of putting cars and stationary batteries into a power grid isn’t anything new. Elon Musk has been pushing for a smarter grid in post-Hurriane-Maria Puerto Rico with the. In a blog post from 2016, General Motors talked about using electrified vehicles to act as grid stand-ins when renewables won’t cut it on their own.
The issue with renewables is that, sometimes, they aren’t capable of providing power 24/7 — the sun isn’t always out, nor is the wind always blowing. By storing that power, whether in a stationary battery or one installed in a car, and feeding it back into the grid when demand outpaces supply, we can get around those hiccups. Now, we just have to figure out how to get everyone to sign on to something ambitious like this — it doesn’t do much good if three houses around town are the only ones contributing.