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Volkswagen says it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) Friday with Ellia Group to explore V2G technology and how it can potentially help stabilize the energy grid while rewarding EV drivers.

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology has immense potential as more electric vehicles hit the road. EV chargers and the technology behind connectors have evolved as automakers work with tech leaders, charging companies, and utility companies to allow their vehicles to be used for more than zero-emission driving.

For example, Ford, Hyundai, Porsche, Nissan, Tesla, and others have explored how drivers can utilize V2G technology to send energy back from their vehicles to the energy grid.

EV batteries have incredible storage ability, which is a significant advantage as countries move to renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar hold incredible value, but they also come with hurdles.

For one thing, wind and solar cannot be produced on demand, making storage solutions essential. Although the transition will require more transmission capacity, electric vehicles offer a unique solution.

Elia is Belgium’s high voltage transmission operator, maintaining electricity supply and demand. The company believes electric vehicles can be a key asset for balancing the grid, referring to them as “batteries on wheels.”

Volkswagen is joining Elia’s mission as the automaker accelerates its transition to sustainable transportation and explores how V2G technology can help integrate EVs for a superior energy grid.

Volkswagen-V2g-1
Volkswagen V2G promotion Source: V2G UK

Volkswagen, Elia agree on plans to integrate V2G into the grid

Over the next few years, Volkswagen, Elli (VW’s energy and charging division), Elia, and its startup re.alto will explore the benefits of V2G integration and the potential challenges that come along with it.

According to the press release, VW’s new partnership aims to show how electric vehicle drivers “will be able to charge their EVs when there are high amounts of renewable energy” available on the grid and “inject the electricity stored in the EVs back into the grid when it needs it most” with V2G technology.

Elli’s CEO, Elke Temme, talks of the benefits of using bi-directional power, stating:

An essential key to achieving climate neutrality lies in linking of the energy and mobility sectors. Using the electric vehicle battery as a mobile power bank delivers a triple benefit: Firstly, the climate benefits as renewable energy can be stored and therefore be used more efficiently; secondly, the electric grid benefits, as the car can contribute toward grid stability, and thirdly, the customer can earn additional revenue with vehicle-to-grid services. To explore the benefits of this consumer-centric approach, this cooperation with Elia Group is crucial for us.”

The technology, when deployed properly, can benefit all parties involved. With less stress on the energy grid, utility companies can offer lower rates to consumers. On top of this, for sending energy back when it’s needed most, EV drivers can earn incentives.

Volkswagen and its partners will focus on four critical areas that would lead to the successful integration of V2G, including:

  • Price signals (incentives) – Exploring ways to incentivize EV drivers to use their vehicles to store and send energy back to the grid.
  • Market design – Working to remove barriers preventing EV owners from being able to choose their energy supplier.
  • Trusted data – EVs must have some verification process to plug into the grid for security purposes.
  • Secure connectivity – Ensuring the connection is secure and any data transferred is safe.

For V2G to work on a wide scale, Volkswagen and its partners recognize these critical factors must be addressed first.

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Stanford scientists figured out why lithium metal batteries fail

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Stanford scientists figured out why lithium metal batteries fail

Researchers at Stanford University and the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have identified what causes lithium metal batteries to short-circuit and fail – and this could help avoid the problem in future battery production.

As a result of this discovery, energy-dense, fast-charging, nonflammable lithium metal batteries that last a long time could overcome the main barriers to their use in EVs, among other benefits.

Lithium metal batteries with solid electrolytes are lightweight, inflammable, pack a lot of energy, and can be recharged very quickly. There’s just been a short-circuiting problem that causes them to fail.

But researchers appear to have pinpointed the problem. In a paper published in the journal Nature Energy, titled, “Mechanical regulation of lithium intrusion probability in garnet solid electrolytes,” researchers cited mechanical stress, especially during potent recharging, to be the cause of failure.

Senior author William Chueh explains:

Just modest indentation, bending or twisting of the batteries can cause nanoscopic fissures in the materials to open and lithium to intrude into the solid electrolyte, causing it to short circuit.

Even dust or other impurities introduced in manufacturing can generate enough stress to cause failure.

This artist’s rendition shows one probe bending from applied pressure, causing a fracture in the solid electrolyte, which is filling with lithium. On the right, the probe is not pressing against the electrolyte and the lithium plates on the ceramic surface, as desired. (Image credit: Cube3D)

Colead author Xin Xu likened it to the way a pothole appears in pavement. Through rain and snow, car tires pound water into the tiny, preexisting imperfections in the pavement, producing ever-widening cracks that grow over time.

Xu said:

Lithium is actually a soft material, but, like the water in the pothole analogy, all it takes is pressure to widen the gap and cause a failure.

So the researchers are now looking at ways to use these very same mechanical forces to toughen the material during manufacturing, much like a blacksmith anneals a blade during production. They’re also looking at ways to coat the electrolyte surface to prevent cracks or repair them if they emerge.

Scientists around the world working to develop new solid electrolyte rechargeable batteries can design around the problem, or even turn the discovery to their advantage, as scientists at Stanford are now researching. 

Main image section: Cube3D

Read more: Porsche to design 3D-printed battery gigafactories for Sakuu


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Arrival (ARVL) names new CEO but cuts staff in half as it fights to reach Van production in US

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Arrival (ARVL) names new CEO but cuts staff in half as it fights to reach Van production in US

The woes continue for commercial EV start-up Arrival, which hopes an internal promotion of a new CEO can help get its all-electric Van into US production as part of a business strategy pivot to cut costs. Arrival is still struggling with capital, however, as it also shared plans to reduce its current staff by 50% to further cut costs and stay afloat. Here’s the latest.

Arrival ($ARVL) is an EV start-up focused on delivering urban-centric mobility, particularly its last-mile Arrival Van, although the start-up was originally also developing an all-electric passenger bus and a rideshare-specific Arrival Car designed alongside Uber.

Since going public via an SPAC merger in March of 2021, the start-up’s stock value has dwindled, leading to an announcement last summer that it would be reorganizing its business to focus solely on Arrival Van production, halting Bus and Car development.

By October, Arrival announced it was pivoting its EV business once again, shifting its focus to US production after citing significant costs to scale overseas and a less-than-stellar at-the-market (ATM) platform.

What was more concerning was Arrival’s cutting of “cash-intensive activities,” which included staff salaries. With a refocused aim on US Van production, Arrival shared that its new strategy would, unfortunately, have “a sizable impact on the company’s global workforce, predominantly in the UK.”

By November, Arrival president and chief of strategy Avinash Rugoobur resigned for personal reasons, and CEO Denis Sverdlov stepped down into a new role as chair of the board. Peter Cuneo has been in place as Arrival’s interim CEO since.

Today, Arrival has announced a new chief taking the reins, but with even more job cuts to follow as the start-up looks to further lean down in order to reach a start of US Van production.

Arrival Van
The Arrival Van, which will (hopefully) be manufactured at the start-up’s North Carolina microfactory / Source: Arrival

Arrival Van to arrive in 2024 but will need additional capital

This morning, Arrival shared that its former EVP of digital Igor Torgov will take over as company CEO today, following a unanimous vote from the board. In addition to his time at Arrival, Torgov has held leadership positions at Atol, Bitfury, and Microsoft. He commented on his new role:

Accepting this important role at a critical point in Arrival’s journey is a significant responsibility. Arrival has developed unique technologies in a market that has huge growth potential and can play a key role in addressing climate change. To unlock these opportunities, we need to make difficult decisions and to take swift action. Following a detailed evaluation of Arrival and the wider EV market during the past two months, the leadership team and the Board have taken decisive action to ensure the most effective use of our current resources and optimize the efficiency of the business. The actions support our journey to become a champion in innovative products and new, more efficient methods of vehicle production, particularly in the important US market for commercial electric vehicles. We are keenly aware that these decisions, while necessary, will have a profound impact on a significant number of our colleagues. We are 100% committed to supporting our employees during this difficult process.

A difficult process indeed.

As the new CEO, Torgov’s first task following the aforementioned company evaluation is to cut its current staff of 1,600 by half. By combining those significant job cuts with “reductions in real estate and third-party spending,” Arrival expects to also halve its operational costs down to about $30 million per quarter as it continues to try and begin scaled Van production.

As of December 31, 2022, Arrival had just $205 million in cash on hand. Arrival’s stock has sat well below $1 per share for months now, triggering a noncompliance letter from the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC this past November. Arrival has until May to once again eclipse $1 per share, or it will be delisted.

Arrival said it will share more details of its 2023 business plan during its 2022 full-year business update in March, including its financial outlook and product milestones for the Arrival Van. The start-up reiterated that it intends to start Van production in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2024 but admits that goal remains subject to raising additional capital.

It’s hard out here for an EV start-up these days, and Mr. Torgov certainly has his work cut out for him.

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World’s first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm blows past expectations

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World's first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm blows past expectations

WindFloat Atlantic – the world’s first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm – has been online for two years, and it’s far exceeding power output expectations.

The 25 megawatt (MW) WindFloat Atlantic project ended 2022 with an electricity production of 78 gigawatt hours (GWh) – 5% more output than its first year. It supplies power to more than 25,000 households and avoids 33,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Its annual availability was between 93-94%.

The offshore wind farm sits 20 km off the coast of Portugal in the municipality of Viana do Castelo, north of Porto. It’s made up of three 8.4 MW Vestas wind turbines that sit on semi-submersible, three-column floating platforms anchored by chains to the seabed. A 20 km long (12.4 mile long) cable connects it to an onshore substation.

WindFloat Atlantic was connected to the grid at the end of 2019 and commissioned in 2020, and it’s now finished its full second year in operation. It has an operations and maintenance base in the port of Viana do Castelo, where the team receives the wind farm’s information in real time so can address any issues that arise in real time. Onsite intervention can be complex, due to adverse weather and sea conditions in the area where it’s sited.

It’s a joint venture between Spanish renewable company EDPR, global energy firm ENGIE, Spanish energy firm Repsol, and California-headquartered floating offshore wind firm Principle Power.

Principle Power, which also worked on Scotland’s Kincardine, the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm, says on its website that the “WindFloat” technology is compatible with any standard offshore wind turbine and can be deployed in waters deeper than 40 m (131 feet).

So, what makes semi-submersible floating offshore wind unique? Here’s what Principle Power says:

The WindFloat has been developed specifically to achieve exceptional stability performance, while reducing structural weight, and simplifying logistics during installation and operation.

The virtual pitch- and yaw-free performance in the offshore environment allows the use of existing commercial offshore wind turbines, located at one of the columns, with only minor modifications to control software. 

Photo: Principle Power


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