Volkswagen to Make Electricity in Your Basement

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“Volkswagen engineers have long suspected that the mini thermal stations could prove incredibly promising. Until now, though, they just haven’t had the technical know-how and familiarity with the electricity industry they needed. Nor did they have a concrete idea of how the relatively expensive (€20,000 or $29,000) mini thermal plants would be able to survive in a competitive energy market.

But now these problems are being solved by Lichtblick. As Werner Neubauer, a member of VW’s executive board, told SPIEGEL, the company’s proposal was so convincing that its managerial board agreed to collaborate with Lichtblick on the project almost immediately.

This week, Volkswagen and Lichtblick plan to sign a contract giving the auto manufacturer exclusive global rights to produce the mini thermal plants. If all goes according to plan, Volkswagen’s auto-production facilities in Salzgitter will be able to churn out 10,000 mini powerplants every year.

“This will be a real revolution for the electricity market,” says Lichtblick CEO Christian Friege. But there is still one question that remains unanswered: Will there be enough customers willing to give up space in their basement and foot the bill for their very own “home power station?”

A Breakthrough for Eco-Friendly Energy

The new concept may prove particularly appealing to homebuilder associations and homeowners who may already have toyed with the idea of replacing their aging central-heating systems. For an all-inclusive fee of around €5,000, Lichtblick technicians promise to tear out and dispose of any old system and replace it with a new Volkswagen mini thermal powerhouse. Repair and maintenance costs from then on are covered by the company, and the customer only has to pay for the energy actually used — a sum significantly lower (or so Lichtblick claims) than the cost of heating with gas.

Under this arrangement, Lichtblick is effectively paying the homeowner rent for being able to use their basement, while homeowners benefit from getting cheap thermal energy. As an added incentive, homeowners will also receive a bonus at the end of the year based on the revenue the system generates for the companies. After all, the system will not only generate thermal power, but also electricity, which it can sell for a tidy profit.

Thanks to a carefully devised monitoring system centrally linking the system via the Internet, the network will be set up to optimize its functioning. According to this system, water will be heated up more often in the homeowners’ basements when there is more demand for electricity on the energy market. This would happen, for example, when there’s a change in the weather and thousands of windmills can simply not provide enough energy to meet a sudden surge in demand. In such cases, as Lichtblick executive Gero Lücking explains, Lichtblick will be able to react very quickly and channel the missing amount of energy into the national powergrid.”

Related stories:

7 Quadrillion BTUs of Free Energy Available

Household Cogeneration Systems

Images from Spiegel and from Flikr user DividedSky46

Via GreenCarCongress from Spiegel

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