Dutch city partners with Hyundai for world's first vehicle-to-grid ecosystem

The city of Utrecht is aiming to become the first in the world to create an ecosystem for bidirectional charging. Quick primer: vehicle-to-grid systems allow cars to function as storage units and load balancers for renewable energy sources like wind and solar. By charging at night when demand is low, and sending power back to the grid when demand is high, electric vehicles act as buffers that balance electricity demand. They're also able to store excess energy produced on days that are super sunny or extra windy, compensating for solar and wind power's natural fluctuations.

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Back to Utrecht — two years ago, the city started commissioning bidirectional charging stations, and now has nearly 500 of them. That network is one of the reasons Hyundai recently chose the city to test its first bidirectional car, the IONIQ 5. The South Korean brand is partnering with Dutch car sharing platform We Drive Solar, with plans for 150 shared IONIQs to be zooming across Utrecht by early 2022. (On a smaller scale, Renault worked with We Drive Solar to test its own bidirectional prototype in the city.) 

The International Energy Agency just underscored the urgency of abandoning fossil fuels if the world is to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. In addition to embracing renewables, the IEA set a goal of 60% of global car sales being electric by 2030. Utrecht's initiative demonstrates how intertwined those goals are. And how crucial both active governments and innovative entrepreneurs are for phasing out fossil fuels. Other cities, auto manufacturers and car sharing platforms to follow, asap?

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