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Partnership to investigate electric vehicles’ role in carbon neutral buildings

A new partnership between Hitachi Europe, Mitsubishi and multinational Engie is looking at how renewables, electric vehicle fleets and building management systems can interact to create carbon neutral commercial buildings.

Under the partnership, Hitachi’s vehicle-to-everything (V2X) charger will be connected to Engie’s office building in Zaandam, Netherlands, allowing bi-directional charging between electric car batteries and the building or grid.

Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid vehicle will be able to store excess solar energy generated by the building and feed it back when required.

Mitsubishi said in a statement that transport and buildings together accounted for 75 per cent of a service-providing business’s carbon emissions, so tackling both areas at once could see massive reductions.

“This demonstration will help [provide] a new energy solution for energy-efficient, low-carbon smart buildings,” Mitsubishi Motors corporate vice-president Vincent Cobeesaid.

“We are aiming to show that EVs and [plug-in hybrid electric vehicles] can be a vital component of urban energy in the future.”

A key component of the partnership is Hitachi’s V2X charger technology, which is thought to be the first recharger capable of both recharging an EV and also discharging energy back into a building or grid at different flexibilities “including kW, ?kW, kWh and VAR”.

Solar panels and external battery storage can also be directly connected to the recharger, “allowing a much more efficient electricity supply to buildings”, Mitsubishi said.

ENGIE Services Netherlands chief operating officer Hans Boot said the project was a powerful demonstration of the growing effectiveness of energy storage and charging technology.

“This charger exceeds smart charging as we know it and is basically the first real ‘smart grid charger’,” he said.

“We hope to begin installing this system for all companies who are eager to take the next step towards becoming truly energy-neutral.”

Hitachi Europe chief digital officer Ram Ramachandersaid digital technology was helping to create better buildings.

“This project demonstrates how our IoT and digital capabilities can help customers make buildings energy-neutral, increasing their energy efficiency and reducing costs, by optimising EV charging infrastructure,” he said.

There has previously been concern that vehicle-to-building and vehicle-to-grid applications could degrade the lifespan of EV batteries, however research released last year found that there were ways to prolong and even increase battery life through vehicle-to-grid charging and discharging.

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