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UN House introduces electric vehicles to local market

2019-10-07  Edgar Brandt

UN House introduces electric vehicles to local market

WINDHOEK - UN House Namibia on Friday introduced electric vehicles (EVs) to the local automotive market with Vehicle-Grid-Integration (VGI), which is a system of bi-directional charging or managing the charging time and levels. VGI is a system whereby the electric vehicles can provide benefits or services to the local electricity grid by using VGI charging station-enabled stored energy in the electric vehicles to be sold back to the grid. Using this system enables building load peak shaving and energy shifting, among many other benefits which significantly reduce the cost of owning an electric vehicle.  

This pilot project is the first installation of VGI technology in Namibia, and the first at any UN compound in Africa. By demonstrating the solution to internal and external stakeholders, the UNDP hopes to trigger widespread adoption across the country.

“Namibia is making great strides in the energy sector and I am happy to say that by using these cars and charging them through the solar energy here, we will contribute to our greening the blue efforts and reduce our carbon emissions significantly,” said Alka Bhatia, UNDP Resident Representative, at the launch of the system at UN House. 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT), which is responsible for supporting UNDP country offices around the world with ICT and green energy solutions, aims to provide a VGI showcase at the UN House in Namibia. The purpose of this showcase is to test the solution, gain experience and collect data during its operation. 

In 2017 UN House Namibia adopted solar power with the installation of a 104kWp solar PV system, which has since been combined with electric vehicle connected via bi-directional power charger this year. In this project, the set-up provides energy backup, load shifting, peak shaving and emergency power supply functionalities for the UN House Namibia compound.  

The solar energy produced is primarily used to serve the UN compound needs. When excess solar power is produced, it will be used to charge the EVs if they are connected to the charging stations. In the evening, EVs may serve as a power source replacing more expensive energy from the grid (energy shifting). 

If the grid power goes down, whether due to infrequent wide-scale grid outages or more frequent outages caused by local disruptions, the EVs may be used as a backup power supply to power the primary appliances like lighting, communication equipment and, if possible, lower priority functions like refrigeration or limited air-conditioning. Two underground parking slots were identified for the project, where charging stations were installed last year.  

Through this project the UNDP aims to ensure business continuity, increase the independence from external and diesel-power based sources, lower costs of EVs ownership, manage electricity costs, increase energy efficiency, facilitate environmental responsibility and pilot emergency response services with EV. 

2019-10-07  Edgar Brandt

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