‘We turn electric cars into batteries on wheels’

We Drive Solar

With electric cars that store energy and feed it back into the grid, We Drive Solar aims to make Utrecht, Heart of Health the first bi-directional city and region in the world. A place where electric cars are not only a means of transportation but also a source of energy. In this way, the Utrecht car-sharing platform is creating a living environment where residents move without emissions.

In 2019, Lombok was the first neighborhood in Europe where bi-directional charging was possible. “We invested in a solar-powered charging station that uses solar energy to charge cars,” says founder Robin Berg. The energy generated is intended to charge electric vehicles. “Our pole can both supply and drain power.”

Deliver back stored power

This innovation turns an electric car into a battery on wheels. During the day it charges, when the sun shines and there is little demand for power. In the evening, the car is hooked back up to the pole. Then the car delivers stored power back to the grid, at the time when power is more expensive. In this way, the company creates a neighborhood energy system that revolves around charging and discharging with the power of the sun. This reduces dependence on the traditional power grid. The solar energy stored in a car battery is good for an average household for two weeks of electricity.

Accelerating energy transition

Berg’s mission? To accelerate the energy transition. The pioneer is enthusiastically showing the technology to the rest of the world. Because bi-directional charging can be deployed anywhere. Utrecht, Heart of Health is the testing ground. For the innovative region, a healthy living environment where residents move around without CO2 emissions plays an important role. That aligns with We Drive Solar. “We want to make 100 percent clean mobility accessible to everyone. It is cleaner, more sustainable, smarter, more efficient and cheaper. And with the driving neighborhood batteries, we can play an important role in combating congestion on the electricity grid.”

World first

“In recent years we have been building a network of charging points that is ready for this technology. We are ahead of other regions.” One of the achievements is the world’s largest bi-directional charging plaza at the a.s.r. headquarters in Utrecht. From the end of 2024, the region’s charging stations will be used by cars that support bi-directional charging. “Then the first car suitable for this technology will be available. We have already done pilots with several car brands,” Berg says. And that means another world first, as Hyundai deploys 25 units of the electric IONIQ 5.

Collaboration with MyWheels

Another important step is joining forces with car-sharing platform MyWheels. This will make We Drive Solar’s technology available to MyWheels’ large fleet of shared cars. “All the cars we purchase new are suitable for bi-directional charging,” says MyWheels. This cooperation makes the threshold for choosing electric transport even lower.

Sustainable energy, mobility and health

Berg calls Utrecht the perfect match for We Drive Solar. “That’s because of the ambitious goals for sustainable energy and mobility. We find it important to help Utrecht achieve its economic and social goals. After all, we are a piece of the puzzle. Moreover, there is a lot of expertise to be found in Utrecht: there are many companies working on the themes of health and sustainability.”

Financial and practical freedom

Berg continues, “We advocate less car ownership, because then people will automatically take the bike or they will move more in other ways. And then if you need a car for once, there will be an electric shared car waiting for you.” In the neighborhoods in Utrecht city like Merwedekanaalzone and Cartesius, share car platforms like We Drive Solar are an integral part of urban planning. For a small monthly fee, neighborhood residents can go anywhere by car. For maximum financial and practical freedom, parking, insurance, maintenance and electricity are included.

Future generations

Berg hopes that in five years, We Drive Solar’s energy system will have become as normal as electric driving. “It really is time to say goodbye to the fossil era. It only provides health benefits. A system that runs on sun and wind is good for everyone and certainly for future generations. In Utrecht and the rest of the world.”

Robin Berg

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‘We turn electric cars into batteries on wheels’

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