Hamburg's Energie Dock seeking to avoid constraints in energy grid

More green electricity for e-cars - founders bring consumers together to use more renewable electricity
07 October 2020
Symbolbild Erneuerbare Energien

Tim Dethlefs, Dr. Tim Plath and Dr. Thomas Preisler, founders of the Hamburg-based Energie Dock, are the brain behind Nemo.Spot. Their company seeks to bring consumers, energy suppliers and network operators together to use more renewable energies (EEG) and to make the energy transition a reality. To do so, the trio focus on electric cars and heat pumps in a bid to manage grid bottlenecks. Founded in April 2020, the start-up is a spin-off of energy market research at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg). 

Challenging bottlenecks and congestion

The power grid faces two fundamental challenges. On the one hand, the locally varying distribution of EEG plants can lead to bottlenecks. Operators then have to regulate the production of electricity from renewable energy sources and frequently use electricity from coal-fired power plants instead to balance out the energy supply. Users of electric cars then charge their batteries with coal-fired electricity, which has come in for repeated criticism. Curtailment measures to manage the bottleneck cost all end customers around EUR 1 billion p.a., according to Energie Dock. 

On the other hand, there is a trend towards more and more electric cars and heat pumps. The focus here is on large-scale plants for which local networks have not yet been designed. Their demand for electricity will triple the energy requirements of households over the next 30 years, the founders pointed out, and may lead to overloads. Network operators want to limit charging capacities to solve this problem. However, this would mean a huge loss of comfort and high costs for end customers.

Delaying consumption versus switching off

The solution lies in controlling electric cars and heat pumps intelligently. The idea is to delay energy consumption rather than switching off power, the trio said, adding: "Our platform allows operators of electric cars and heat pumps to offer their consumers' flexibility to the network operators. They can then use this flexibility to adjust net bottlenecks. Charging occurs later without any loss of comfort and using more environment-friendly electricity."

Cheaper, environment-friendly grid management

Together with major Internet of Things providers and network operators, Energie Dock wants to manage network congestion in a "cheaper and environment-friendlier" fashion. The aim is to make it as easy as possible for e-car drivers to use maximum amounts of electricity from EEG plants. Apart from reduced costs, Plath also hopes to save around one ton of CO2. To do so, customers require a so-called intelligent wallbox that helps charge the electric car. The service life is predicted and the network operator can charge the car without bottlenecks in a fully automated process. This system can cut the costs of congestion management by up to 50 per cent. The shift in consumption means that electricity sales are not reduced overall.