©University of Twente

Dutch insurance company a.s.r. recently opened the world’s largest bi-directional charging garage for electric cars in Utrecht, Netherlands. The opening ceremony was presided over by Mayor Sharon Dijksma and a.s.r. CEO Jos Baeten. This sustainable garage can simultaneously charge and discharge 250 electric cars. The Mathematics of Operations Research department of University of Twente professor Johann Hurink is making a major contribution to the project, the university reports in a press release.

The 10,000 square meter parking garage has a roof with more than 2,000 solar panels, enough for four million electric miles per year. At the garage’s 250 smart bi-directional charging stations, electric cars can both charge and discharge. There are also batteries where the generated power can be stored.

Also interesting: Charging and discharging cars in Utrecht

Mayor Sharon Dijksma said: “Together with many partners, we are developing a bi-directional ecosystem in the Utrecht region. This charging garage at a.s.r. is making an important contribution to this. Our progressive course in the field of sustainable mobility is an example for the rest of the Netherlands and the world.”

Optimal use of existing power grid

The charging garage at a.s.r. is one of the locations within the SmoothEMS project with Gridshield. Within that project, the University of Twente is researching and testing technology that will accelerate the energy transition by making optimal use of the existing power grid. By combining demand management (SmoothEMS) with an extra safety net (Gridshield), more charging points for electric cars and solar panels can be installed more quickly. It also provides protection against cyber-attacks and communication outages. This is a godsend for any building with many users and a fluctuating energy supply and demand. Hurink’s group, which is working on smart energy systems, is developing the simulation environment (with the open-source tool DEMKit) and is also researching the Energy Management Systems (EMS).

In addition to a.s.r.’s charging garage, the University of Twente campus also has one of the test sites. It concerns the charging station of AmperaPark, the solar panel-covered parking lot near the Pavilion building on campus. That location now has nine charging stations and a battery will soon be added. The provincial government building in Zwolle is the third site of this project.

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