Smart Solar Charging

Context of Transport Climate Action

Local solar power and EV-batteries are a “match in heaven”. Charging and discharging your car allows you to make an optimum use of your locally generated solar energy. Smart solar charging is an Utrecht-innovation where an use-case is conducted in public space and directly on the AC grid. This new business brings benefits for citizens such as cleaner air and cheaper transportation, not to mention the severely investments the grid operator can avoid by using smart technologies.


General Electric, Vidyn, LomboXnet, LastMile Solutions and gridoperator (DSO) Stedin have formed a Dutch consortium to develop the world’s first solar-controlled, bi-directional, compact charging station for electric cars. Currently the battery capacity in cheap electric cars is still limited, but the capacity will at least double for electric cars in the near future. Costs for Solar energy are also declining fast. By the end of 2016 several large car brands will be presenting electric cars that can drive at least 300 km on a single battery charge. By way of comparison, that’s enough energy storage to provide an average Dutch household with electricity for more than a week.

This new solution has a huge potential:

  • It applies to global charging standard (AC), in principle making this smart charging station suitable for all electric cars. This means that both Smart Solar Charging and V2G can be upscaled globally.
  • This smart charging station is 80-90% cheaper than the current international standard. This savings is achieved through a more compact design, optimization of the technology and large-scale, Dutch production.
  • In addition, the dimensioning makes this charging station suitable for installation in both public spaces and in any garage or drive, so that every electric car can soon both charge and discharge on a smart basis.



General Electric, Vidyn, LomboXnet, LastMile Solutions and Stedin have formed the Dutch Smart Solar Charging consortium. The first milestone was delivered on  9 June 2015 with the world premiere.


  • Distribution network operators have to move beyond traditional models and grids and instead think in terms of smart grids and sell the associated new services (and no longer per kWh).
  • Car manufacturers need to permit the batteries of their electric cars to be discharged, too. State-of-Charge (SoC) information is also needed. With this charging station, GE is setting an international standard that will challenge car makers to enable V2G through the global AC charging standard. Drivers of electric cars will ask for this standard.
  • Need for a new revenue model and legislative leeway. If real steps are to be made in the Netherlands and beyond, regulatory authorities need to provide space for experimentation. Currently one citizen’s energy surplus cannot be legally sold directly to another citizen. The surplus has to be returned to the grid at low prices and energy then has to be purchased from the same grid at much higher costs. Unsurprisingly, this option meets with little interest. This means that a genuinely new revenue model with variable prices is not yet possible, although this is a prerequisite for the large-scale introduction of Smart Solar Charging.


The possibility of storing energy also helps to avoid unnecessary major investments in grid reinforcement (estimation for the Netherlands: € 30 billion). This is particularly the case with the advent of smart grids in which supply and demand can be aligned more closely and where consumers can also act as energy producers and supply energy to others. This case has a healthy business case, no subsidies where contracted.


Thanks to open standards, Smart Solar Charging can be applied to all cars, everywhere.

Smart Solar Charging thus contributes to:

  • Required storage to enable the transition to renewables
  • The well-to-tank CO2reduction will be 13.5 kt CO2/j when applied to 10.000 electric vehicles
  • Smart clean mobility
  • Higher returns on solar power
  • Reduction of electricity peaks in the grid
  • Healthy air, also in heavily urban areas
  • By upscaling Smart Solar Charging from the Netherlands outwards, unique expertise is built up that can give us a leading position relative to the rest of the world
  • Encouraging electric driving: the affordability of electric driving is increased because the energy that is fed back results in savings or even earnings (consumption of own energy and the consumer as producer)
  • The new solar-controlled, bi-directional compact charging station will deliver at least 10% cost savings through more efficient use of existing grids
  • The smart energy infrastructure is creating new types of work. Moreover, an increase in the number of jobs can be expected because the entire chain of smart charging requires manpower. Research by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency indicates that one job will be created for every 20 electric cars. This will mean 10,000 jobs by 2020, and 50,000 jobs by 2030. Moreover, the Smart Solar Charging consortium expects that innovation and the combination with smart grids will treble this number of jobs. So from one to three jobs per 20 cars, thanks to the combination with solar panels and the inclusion of this infrastructure in the Smart Grid

Potential for scaling up

Our public-private partnership currently is upscaling to a testbed of 20 station in Utrecht. Administration and engineering has been done, installation will be completed by the end of  December 2015. Because the grid operator cuts costs (low investments) and the solar energy is now competing with diesel and gasoline instead of –cheap- coal fired electricity, a profitable margin is made. Therefor no subsidy is contracted this far for the development and deployment of Smart Solar Charging.

One of the goals of the Municipality of Utrecht is that within five years 10.000 electric cars will drive around in the city.

With an regulatory framework from the past century, the new trend  of energy prosumers– citizens who both produce and consume energy – it is our challenge is to combine citizen protection with governmental  pro-action. If Smart Solar Charging is to achieve its potential, investments by businesses and local grid operator must be backed up by smart legislation created by the state in consultation with operators. Smart Solar Charging needs regulatory authorities to enable experimentation on:

  1. Taylor made techniques
  2. Sustainable tax incentives
  3. Flexible energy tariffs

Selected references



The Netherlands, Europe City of Utrecht






Europe, Mitigation, Technology, Passenger, cars


Lomboxnet, Stedin


“The transition from fossil energy to renewable energy is essential and is happening fast all over the world. In the transition to 100% renewable energy, storage is a major factor and simultaneously a global challenge. Utrecht has a solution: Smart Solar Charging.”
-Robin Berg, manager Consortium Smart Solar Charging