On Wednesday 25 February, project EDISON, a creatively contrived acronym for "Electric Vehicles in a Distributed and Integrated Market using Sustainable Energy and Open Networks" got off to an official start with the research consortium members signing a collaboration contract.
The signing at the Danish Design centre was also attended by the Minister for Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard, who has just returned from the US where on Monday she addressed the National Governors' Association on the theme of sustainable development, with particular reference to transportation.
Hot news regarding the EDISON consortium is that IBM – whose intentions regarding project membership were not previously confirmed – has now formally announced that it is joining the EDISON effort. The list of members now reads: IBM, Siemens, Eurisco, Denmark's largest energy company DONG Energy, regional energy company of Østkraft, Risø/DTU (Technical University of Denmark) and the Danish Energy Association.
On Commodity Online, the general manager of IBM's Global Energy & Utilities industry, Guido Bartels, is quoted as saying: "Denmark, the host of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change conference and the most energy-efficient country in the EU, further underscores its ambitions here with the EDISON project announcement." Bartels continues: "There is already broad consensus that both wind energy and electric vehicles have enormous potential for a sustainable energy future. Bringing the two together promises to be a winning combination."
The EDISON project will play a valuable part in developing the smart infrastructure required for the large-scale roll-out of electric cars in Denmark. New power infrastructure thinking is necessary because - to put it in simplistic terms - if lots of electric cars all plugged into the grid for recharging in an uncontrolled and unmanaged way, it could easily lead to situations where the grid could be swamped with demand.
To avoid this, a new breed of infrastructure needs to be developed so that electric cars can communicate intelligently with the grid to dynamically determine the time periods when charging can take place - this will be influenced by fluctuating power inputs to the grid from renewable energy sources like wind, as well as cumulative demand on the grid at any point in time.
The EDISON project has three phases: research, technological development and demonstration. The latter will take place on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, which has a population of 40,000 and a large proportion of wind energy in the total energy mix.
IBM Denmark and IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory will develop, among other contributions, smart technologies that synchronize the charging of the electric vehicles with the availability of wind in the grid.