V2G takes shape in first smart charging area at Sweco HQ
Swedish engineering bureau Sweco chose to make its new Belgian headquarters climate-neutral and installs a vehicle-to-grid smart charging area in front of the renovated building. Partners ‘in crime’ are ABB and Yuso.
Sweco’s headquarters in the industrial zone of Zelzate (Ghent port area) needed a profound renovation. The Sweco management saw it as an opportunity to try to make it CO2-neutral, with financial support from the Flemish government.
“We have to be ambitious in making our mobility sustainable,” says Hilde Crevits, Flemish Minister for Economy and Innovation. “On the one hand in changing our mobility habits, on the other hand, in ‘greening’ our vehicle fleet.”
The number of electric cars will increase dramatically in the following years, with huge consequences for energy demand and charging infrastructure. That’s why we can’t underestimate the importance of this first smart charging area in Belgium.”
“This project concerns all areas: the growth of EVs and sustainable energy, the control of energy costs, and the robustness of our energy network. This innovative move and technical foresight of Sweco had to be supported by the Flemish government,” the Minister concludes.
Same vision, a new step
“For many years already, we are promoting sustainable mobility for our employees,” says Erwin Malcorps, Sweco’s MD. We focus on new tools, maximal freedom of choice, and the restraining of displacement needs.”
“Our guideline is MaaS, mobility-as-a-service: free public transport, shared and pooled bikes, bike-lease, carpooling and -sharing, etc. But being an engineering bureau with collaborators often on the road, we decided last year to electrify our company car fleet.”
“This future smart charging area in front of our Sweco HQ is an important consequence of this policy and something we’re proud of. At the moment, we already have 200 EVs in our fleet; the other 530 will follow quickly. By 2030, our company wants to be completely climate-neutral.”
“At Sweco, our car fleet will already be electrical in 2025, so our infrastructure has to follow,” says Jochen De Smet, Sweco’s energy project leader. “This requires charging points: last year we installed 18. This year we will reach 70; we aim to have 200 spread over our 11 offices in the country.”
“V2G or bi-directional loading is of key importance to achieve our goals. The solar panels on our roof produce energy; this can be stored in a stationary battery for later use but also in our cars so that these ‘batteries on wheels’ become an active part of our total energy system.”
“Grid providers will be confronted with huge demands for electricity in the coming years, they will face tough challenges adapting their network capacity. We want to be as energy-autonomous as possible: it saves money and at the same time eases the strain on the network(s).”
The 22 bi-directional charging points installed in Zelzate are sourced from ABB, more precisely, its Electrification Business Area. “At ABB, we are a market leader concerning charging infrastructure,” says Steven Van Deun, Business lead e-mobility Belux.
“Since 2010, we already sold 400 000 charging points in 85 countries worldwide, 20 000 of them being fast-charging devices. In Belgium, the (conservative) forecast is that 20% of the car fleet will be electrified in 2030, or some 1,2 million vehicles.”
That calls for 1,9 million AC charging points and some 25 000 DC fast-chargers, representing an investment of €300 million per year from now, not including the investments in the grid itself. Bi-directional loading will be crucial to manage this new demand.”
In this complicated equation, flexibility is key. “In this project, we from Yuso act as a market player. We offer software for smart management and access to the professional electricity market,” says Michel Verschuere, Yuso MD.
“With the amount of renewable energy increasing, demand has to follow the offer. That needs flexibility and optimization. We contribute to lowering the TCO of the company’s car fleet, and at the same time, we create more stability for the network.”
“V2G is an important tool here. It helps to flatten the energy consumption peaks in the morning and (especially) in the evening and contributes to a more stable pricing policy, beneficial to all players,” Verschuere concludes.
At the moment, the new HQ building is under (re)construction. By the end of the year, the new facilities and the smart charging area have to be fully operational.