Renault EVs and battery storage used for Portuguese ‘smart island’ project

Automaker Renault has agreed to partner with a Portuguese utility company to transform the island of Porto Santo into a "Smart Fossil Free Island" that combines electric vehicles (EV) with renewable energy.

Renault will partner with EEM Empresa de Electricitade da Madeira, SA, the company that transports, distributes and sells electricity to Madeira and Porto Santo. The partnership will focus on the integration of EVs, smart and vehicle-to-grid charging and renewable energy to boost the project’s energy independence.

“We are delighted to be teaming up with EEM today to establish this unprecedented smart electric ecosystem which demonstrates to what extent the electric revolution is changing our everyday lives beyond just transport,” Renault’s EV and new business programme director Eric Feunteun said.

“Our aim is to build a model that can be carried over to other islands, eco-districts and cities, while consistently striving to achieve large-scale rollout of electric mobility solutions that are affordable for all.”

The two companies have been working on the project since the start of the year and completion is expected in 18 months’ time. Volunteers in Porto Santo will drive 14 EV ZOE and six EV Kangoo models for everyday use. The drivers will benefit from 40 connected public and private charging points set up by EEM and Renault on the island.

By the end of the year, the EVs will be able to better interact with the grid to provide electricity during peak hours, serving as energy storage units. Second-life batteries from Renault EVs will then be used to store renewable energy produced by the island’s solar and wind farms, which account for around 15% of the island’s electricity mix.

Other companies involved in the project include Bouygues Energies, The Mobility House and ABB.

Renault is committed to rolling-out eight pure EVs and 12 hybrid models by 2022. The new EV portfolio will be accompanied by 15 autonomous vehicles, one fully-autonomous model and new mobility services such as ride-hailing options and a “robo-taxi” service.

Island life

Islands are becoming ideal testing grounds for companies to integrate energy storage techniques. The island of Aruba will integrate an advanced microgrid into the operations of the island’s main utilities provider, while on the Isles of Scilly, a £10.8m energy storage project will test how EVs and domestic batteries can integrate into low-carbon energy systems.

Tesla is expectedly in on the act, and has issued the sale of 272 Tesla Powerpacks to provide electricity after dark to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. More recently, the Balearic Islands’ government has launched a pioneering plan to phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, taking diesel cars off the car market in Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca and Formentera from 2025.

Matt Mace

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