Volkswagen and LichtBlick Partner on Home Combined Heat and Power Systems; LichtBlick Plans a “SchwarmStrom” for 2,000 MW of Decentralized Power
|An EcoBlue CHP unit. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen and German energy supplier LichtBlick have formed an exclusive world-wide energy partnership. Volkswagen will produce the high-efficiency EcoBlue CHP (combined heat and power) plant, which is to be driven by natural gas engines from Volkswagen. LichtBlick will market the plants as “ZuhauseKraftwerke” (home power plants) and will use them in a new, decentralized intelligent power supply scheme: “SchwarmStrom” (current swarm).
LichtBlick plans eventually to network some 100,000 of the distributed home power plants to form a 2,000 MW virtual decentralized power plant to handle fluctuations in future electricity generation as renewables grow to represent a larger component of the power mix, according to Dr. Christian Friege, CEO of LicbtBlick.
The EcoBlue units consist of a natural gas engine that powers a generator; the exhaust gas is used for the heating component. In the ZuhauseKraftwerk Schwarmstrom concept, each EcoBlue unit will connect to a grid operations center, and will be able to provide power on demand to the grid.
By marketing the ZuhauseKraftwerk, which allows decentralized, flexible power generation, LichtBlick will be ushering in a new era of smart energy supply. As Germany’s largest independent energy supplier, we know how power and gas markets work and how to organize a successful sales system. In Volkswagen, we have found the ideal partner for our scheme. You should think of our home power plants like a shoal of fish, with many small units pooling their resources to form a large, high-performance community that generates power. LichtBlick plans to network 100,000 of these home power plants to form the largest power plant in Germany.—Dr. Christian Friege
While the ZuhauseKraftwerk will only generate power on demand, the heat produced at the same time will be stored, allowing reliable supplies of heating energy and warm water to the building at all times. These natural-gas-fired home power plants already reduce CO2 emissions by up to 60 percent, compared with conventional heat and power generation. In the future, LichtBlick plans to operate the plants on biogas, a renewable energy source with no impact on the climate.
The LichtBlick scheme for decentralized power generation is intended to supplement the expansion of renewable energy sources. Some experts predict that almost half of the electricity used will be generated from renewable sources by 2020. 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. In contrast, power from the LichtBlick decentralized system can be supplied to the grid quickly.
Most importantly, we can supply power when there is no wind. This approach will pave the way for increased use of renewable energy sources and for the flexible and climate-friendly power generation system of the future.—Dr. Christian Friege
LichtBlick will initially be marketing the home power plants in Hamburg and the first plants will be available for installation from 2010 with the customer paying an installation contribution of €5,000. From 2010, LichtBlick will be gradually expanding its marketing efforts to cover the whole of Germany.
Volkswagen is to start volume production of home power plants at its Salzgitter engine plant. The Volkswagen Works Council sees this project as a first key step towards alternative employment in addition to conventional engine production.