Volkswagen to Make Electricity in Your Basement

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Power from the LichtBlick decentralized system can be supplied to the grid quickly. In the first year of production, 2010, these will only be available in Germany, where almost half of their electricity is expected to be renewable by 2020.

Because they are highly efficient, these home CHP units already reduce CO2 emissions by up to 60 percent, compared with conventional heat and power generation using natural gas. Each EcoBlue unit consists of a natural gas engine that powers a electricity generation unit; while the exhaust gas is captured for the heating component.

But in future iterations, the plants will run on biogas, a renewable energy source with no impact on the climate. Says Kemfert: “the most ecological would be to feed these mini-plants with biogas” rather than natural gas.”

Volkswagen sees these home power units as amortizing their design investment; adding a new use for their natural gas engine engineering expertize. Instead of using energy only for transportation, they will be using it to power the grid. First volume production begins at their Salzgitter engine factory. Each unit will cost around $7,300.

From De Siegel:

“The centerpiece of the new mini powerplant system is a natural-gas-powered engine used in some Volkswagen Golf models. Thanks to the engine’s highly intelligent design — and the fact that the heat it produces can be directly used to heat the house — the efficiency factor of the Volkswagen mini thermal powerplant lies at around 94 percent.

To understand how that is an improvement over the current situation, you first have to know that the efficiency factor of your average nuclear power plant is only between 30 percent and 40 percent and that even modern coal- and gas-fired powerplants only reach an efficiency factor of between 40 percent and 60 percent. ”

More details from De Siegel:

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