CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world. Subscribe today!


Clean Power energy_electricity

Published on September 15th, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer

27

Volkswagen to Make Electricity in Your Basement

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone
September 15th, 2009 by
 

We are used to the idea of powering our homes from our roofs, by now. But what if we could get our electricity from the basement? From what’s already down there… heating our homes.

Everyone who uses natural gas to supply heat and to heat water, could be tapping into that heat to make their own electricity as well with a CHP unit. Unlike solar or wind power, this energy source could be supplying electric power both day and night, and whether it’s windy or not.

And who better to make such a unit but an auto company that has already put in some design time making natural gas engines work more efficiently. Volkswagen wants to make electricity in your basement.

If you live in Germany. For now.

Volkswagen has formed a partnership with German energy supplier LichtBlick to build combined heat and power plants which are to be driven by high efficiency Volkswagen natural gas engines.

Obviously for the homeowner this means that as well as the option of making your own power on the roof, now there is the option of getting a supply from your basement as well. But it is not primarily individual homeowners who would be the beneficiaries of Volkswagen’s decentralized electricity swarm in their own basement. Not directly, at least.

These units would send bursts of power, as needed, to the grid.  Each unit will connect to a grid operations center, and will be able to provide power on demand to the grid. So LichtBlick will market the EcoBlue CHP home power plants to municipalities as a new, decentralized intelligent power supply scheme aptly named the SchwarmStrom or “swarm of electricity”.

What the electrical current “swarm” refers to is that 100,000 of these units in a town would effectively constitute a 2,000 megawatt natural gas power plant. Just a decentralized one.

“The home power plants together form a huge, invisible power station that doesn’t make the countryside ugly or require additional infrastructure.” says LichtBlick.

Lichtblick said the plan was that tens of thousands of generators could be mobilized to meet a surge in demand or if drought made it hard to cool nuclear plants or a calm spell idled wind turbines.

Conventional base-load power plants cannot be started up or shut down fast enough to compensate for fluctuations in power supply from solar or wind energy units as a result of changing weather conditions.

“Gas plants have an advantage over nuclear power stations in that the heat produced by the latter is wasted”, Claudia Kemfert; the DIW research institute energy expert said, in evaluating the EcoBlue.

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

Print Friendly

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • http://www.gasfurnacereview.com/ gas furnace

     Hi,
    Thanks for sharing the information….I glad to read this blog by Volkswagen…

  • pariah

    Sure would be a good option if solar storms take out the grid, no?

  • pariah

    Sure would be a good option if solar storms take out the grid, no?

  • grupa jurgena

    Witamy pomysł jest dobry potrzeba czasu żeby to wszystko zgrać – benzyna czy olej opałowy, to się kłuci z ekologią samochody agregaty elektrownie węglowe, to nie pozwoli nam iść w stronę dobrego klimatu, nigdy nie uda się nam dojście do ochrony klimatu, powiecie Krytyką nie na problemu, więc jak ten pomysł rozwiązać. Powie ktoś marzenia nowe źródła energetyczne i tu widzimy jaskółkę Urządzenia w piwnicy 20 kw niekorzystające z gazu czy ropy czy benzyny ich praca, cicha zasili dom i nadmiar do miejskiej sieci energetycznej, to jest wizja rozwiązania tematu czy daleka powiemy, że wyłania się nam z popiołów to, co będzie nas grzało i dawało energię do sieci to samo będzie napędzać nasze samochody elektryczne o niesamowitym zasięgu, da nam energii nadmiarze, wszyscy powiecie ta wizja jest nie realna marzenia grupy Jurgena. To od was zależy, kiedy ją wszyscy chcemy musimy się zmienić, ale wszyscy ci, co są blisko ropy gazu czy kasy powiemy to kilka miesięcy do wyjaśnienia sobie czy świat zacznie się zmieniać, gdy dostanie nową energię

  • grupa jurgena

    Witamy pomysł jest dobry potrzeba czasu żeby to wszystko zgrać – benzyna czy olej opałowy, to się kłuci z ekologią samochody agregaty elektrownie węglowe, to nie pozwoli nam iść w stronę dobrego klimatu, nigdy nie uda się nam dojście do ochrony klimatu, powiecie Krytyką nie na problemu, więc jak ten pomysł rozwiązać. Powie ktoś marzenia nowe źródła energetyczne i tu widzimy jaskółkę Urządzenia w piwnicy 20 kw niekorzystające z gazu czy ropy czy benzyny ich praca, cicha zasili dom i nadmiar do miejskiej sieci energetycznej, to jest wizja rozwiązania tematu czy daleka powiemy, że wyłania się nam z popiołów to, co będzie nas grzało i dawało energię do sieci to samo będzie napędzać nasze samochody elektryczne o niesamowitym zasięgu, da nam energii nadmiarze, wszyscy powiecie ta wizja jest nie realna marzenia grupy Jurgena. To od was zależy, kiedy ją wszyscy chcemy musimy się zmienić, ale wszyscy ci, co są blisko ropy gazu czy kasy powiemy to kilka miesięcy do wyjaśnienia sobie czy świat zacznie się zmieniać, gdy dostanie nową energię

  • http://www.forgreenheat.org John Ackerly

    I think this is fantastic concept, and should also be developed to run off of wood pellets. I’d like to see life-cycle analysis of wood pellets compared to biogas to power these thermal units. Austria is already leader in pellet central furnaces that provide domestic hot water and heat – but not electricity.

  • http://www.forgreenheat.org John Ackerly

    I think this is fantastic concept, and should also be developed to run off of wood pellets. I’d like to see life-cycle analysis of wood pellets compared to biogas to power these thermal units. Austria is already leader in pellet central furnaces that provide domestic hot water and heat – but not electricity.

  • Paul

    @Richard (Dick Smith?)

    –A commentor who has no actual comment on the story!– Bring it on mate!!

    Have you read about truck stop plug-in sites being installed across the US? So resting truck drivers can turn off their engines instead of running them for hours just to power their AC systems. At idle the Diesel runs at all of 3% energy efficiency (emissions = energy LOL) and now local residents can get some piece and quite (noise = energy LOL)

    A nuclear bomb = energy…. what is your point??

    This VW system is meant to be based in residential areas. I don’t see any mention of it being intended for areas only zoned for industrial levels of noise. Having just returned from an event where diesel gen sets ran 24 hours a day to provide lighting… I am well aware of the noise and vibration they make, even when insulated from the ground by tires.

    Even a small 2 hp air compressor can generate significant disturbance in a quiet residential neighborhood, and they only make noise, they don’t pump out noxious fumes!

    The ‘green’ movement is meant to be getting away from ICEs not finding new ways for auto manufacturers to sell more of them!

  • Paul

    @Richard (Dick Smith?)

    –A commentor who has no actual comment on the story!– Bring it on mate!!

    Have you read about truck stop plug-in sites being installed across the US? So resting truck drivers can turn off their engines instead of running them for hours just to power their AC systems. At idle the Diesel runs at all of 3% energy efficiency (emissions = energy LOL) and now local residents can get some piece and quite (noise = energy LOL)

    A nuclear bomb = energy…. what is your point??

    This VW system is meant to be based in residential areas. I don’t see any mention of it being intended for areas only zoned for industrial levels of noise. Having just returned from an event where diesel gen sets ran 24 hours a day to provide lighting… I am well aware of the noise and vibration they make, even when insulated from the ground by tires.

    Even a small 2 hp air compressor can generate significant disturbance in a quiet residential neighborhood, and they only make noise, they don’t pump out noxious fumes!

    The ‘green’ movement is meant to be getting away from ICEs not finding new ways for auto manufacturers to sell more of them!

  • Susan Kraemer

    @Richard

    :-)

  • Richard Smith

    ”I’d also like to point out the noise and emissions from such an ICE are not mentioned. Ever tried to get some sleep within earshot of a diesel genset?”

    noise= energy

    emissions = energy

    ( my comment = totally uninformed layman’s quick impression after skim reading )

  • Richard Smith

    ”I’d also like to point out the noise and emissions from such an ICE are not mentioned. Ever tried to get some sleep within earshot of a diesel genset?”

    noise= energy

    emissions = energy

    ( my comment = totally uninformed layman’s quick impression after skim reading )

  • Susan Kraemer

    @Richard

    :-)

  • Paul

    I’d have to say 94% is a misleading exaggeration! A regular gasoline fueled ICE is at best 30% energy efficient at the flywheel. They’re talking about running an ICE on natural gas, a fuel with even lower energy density than petroleum.

    Based on the Gasoline figure simple math says they are claiming a whopping 64% of their energy generation from waste heat which might fly if they’re talking about Germany in the middle of winter, but is a gross exaggeration for the rest of the year. That much heat energy can simply not be used in a domestic house year round.

    I’d also like to point out the noise and emissions from such an ICE are not mentioned. Ever tried to get some sleep within earshot of a diesel genset? LOL

  • Paul

    I’d have to say 94% is a misleading exaggeration! A regular gasoline fueled ICE is at best 30% energy efficient at the flywheel. They’re talking about running an ICE on natural gas, a fuel with even lower energy density than petroleum.

    Based on the Gasoline figure simple math says they are claiming a whopping 64% of their energy generation from waste heat which might fly if they’re talking about Germany in the middle of winter, but is a gross exaggeration for the rest of the year. That much heat energy can simply not be used in a domestic house year round.

    I’d also like to point out the noise and emissions from such an ICE are not mentioned. Ever tried to get some sleep within earshot of a diesel genset? LOL

  • Susan Kraemer

    Tom, you write it comparing cost, power and heat output of the Capstone, Freewatt and EcoBlue CHP

    :-) We need more writers. There’s so much news.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Tom, you write it comparing cost, power and heat output of the Capstone, Freewatt and EcoBlue CHP

    :-) We need more writers. There’s so much news.

  • http://energyjustice.org Marty

    But where are we getting this gas from? I don’t know about in Germany, but over here in the US, thousands of acres of arable land and billions of gallons of drinkable water are being poisoned in an effort to extract this so-called clean energy.

    You can’t forget to look at the extraction side of things!

    http://www.energyjustice.net/naturalgas/

  • http://energyjustice.org Marty

    But where are we getting this gas from? I don’t know about in Germany, but over here in the US, thousands of acres of arable land and billions of gallons of drinkable water are being poisoned in an effort to extract this so-called clean energy.

    You can’t forget to look at the extraction side of things!

    http://www.energyjustice.net/naturalgas/

  • Susan Kraemer

    Ben; the money you could make would depend on

    a. if you have a Feed in Tarfiff available where you live and

    b. if it would cover CHP.

    CHP is not a classic “renewable” like solar etc, though worthy.

    One city I know is considering a FIT that will pay for CHP in California, Sacramento’s SMUD:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2009/08/17/smud-offers-unusual-feed-in-tariff-but-not-as-good-as-gainesvilles/

    Germany, where this is being pioneered, has the best FIT in the world for solar, but this arrangement with Volkswagen and LightBlick only lowers their energy costs for energy customers hosting this.

    But wouldn’t a Feed in Tariff be perfect for this.

    MD – thanks – great info

  • Susan Kraemer

    Ben; the money you could make would depend on

    a. if you have a Feed in Tarfiff available where you live and

    b. if it would cover CHP.

    CHP is not a classic “renewable” like solar etc, though worthy.

    One city I know is considering a FIT that will pay for CHP in California, Sacramento’s SMUD:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2009/08/17/smud-offers-unusual-feed-in-tariff-but-not-as-good-as-gainesvilles/

    Germany, where this is being pioneered, has the best FIT in the world for solar, but this arrangement with Volkswagen and LightBlick only lowers their energy costs for energy customers hosting this.

    But wouldn’t a Feed in Tariff be perfect for this.

    MD – thanks – great info

  • Tom Lakosh

    I wish they had an English website, but 94% total efficiency is very impressive, probably necessitating both block cooling and exhaust heat capture. Susan, can you do another article comparing cost, power and heat output of the Capstone, Freewatt and EcoBlue CHP systems? Given the large amount of waste heat in these systems, it might be advantageous to add an Organic Rankine Cycle generator to improve the power to heat ratio. The design of the stratified heat storage tank is also critical for efficient heat capture and storage.

  • Tom Lakosh

    I wish they had an English website, but 94% total efficiency is very impressive, probably necessitating both block cooling and exhaust heat capture. Susan, can you do another article comparing cost, power and heat output of the Capstone, Freewatt and EcoBlue CHP systems? Given the large amount of waste heat in these systems, it might be advantageous to add an Organic Rankine Cycle generator to improve the power to heat ratio. The design of the stratified heat storage tank is also critical for efficient heat capture and storage.

  • MD

    Honda already makes something similar: http://www.hondanews.com/categories/1048/releases/4880

    Makes sense for VW to follow suit.

    If you have any generator that uses some form of IC engine, and that engine is cooled via a fluid in contained with a water jacket, you can run the coolant to an indoor storage tank in any building and run heaters off of it or run it through a heat exchanger for domestic hot water…

    You end up with electricity, heat and warm water…

  • MD

    Honda already makes something similar: http://www.hondanews.com/categories/1048/releases/4880

    Makes sense for VW to follow suit.

    If you have any generator that uses some form of IC engine, and that engine is cooled via a fluid in contained with a water jacket, you can run the coolant to an indoor storage tank in any building and run heaters off of it or run it through a heat exchanger for domestic hot water…

    You end up with electricity, heat and warm water…

  • Ben

    This would be great to have during a power outage too.

    that $7300 price tag is steep though. How much do you think you would make back in personal savings and selling to the grid (minus the cost of the gas to create that electricity)?

    Is there a business model where the $7300 device could be installed for free and then you just pay monthly? Like a cell phone plan where you get the phone for free if you commit to a long contract?

  • Ben

    This would be great to have during a power outage too.

    that $7300 price tag is steep though. How much do you think you would make back in personal savings and selling to the grid (minus the cost of the gas to create that electricity)?

    Is there a business model where the $7300 device could be installed for free and then you just pay monthly? Like a cell phone plan where you get the phone for free if you commit to a long contract?

Back to Top ↑