Cars will be power plants of the future

03 Dec 2011


It is not the availability of energy that is relevant, but the services we need it for, such as a warm house or a boiled egg. These services should then be offered as energy-efficiently as possible, says TU Delft professor of future energy systems and sustainable energy entrepreneur, Ad Van Wijk.

According to Van Wijk, the car, for instance, will be our future power plant.  ''The energy debate almost always focuses on the availability of energy. How much fossil energy is left? How many households does one wind farm supply with electricity?

"What the debate should be about is which energy services are needed, a warm house, a boiled egg or a ton of steel for example, and how these can be offered in an energy-efficient way,'' he explains.
There is in fact no shortage of energy. ''We can improve the energy-efficiency to a great degree - at the moment we waste up to 98 per cent - far more important is that there is an unlimited supply of sustainable energy.''
Van Wijk moots the development of new, efficient, integrated, flexible and local sustainable energy systems, but in particular for a new perspective on the issue of energy.
He plans to bring together scientists, students and businesses to develop efficient and sustainable energy services, energy systems and energy technology based on this new type of  thinking. Van Wijk will do this by developing the Green Campus. ''by means of a series of innovations on the TU Delft terrain we want to develop a sustainable, living and entrepreneurial campus designed 'to discover, learn and inspire'.
One of these projects is a sustainable parking garage that will also serve as an electricity plant. Initially, the garage will only offer facilities for charging electric vehicles. In the future, Van Wijk also expects cars to be fitted with fuel cells. When the vehicles are parked, these fuel cells will be able to convert biogas or hydrogen into electricity. The garage will turn into an electricity plant of considerable size.
Van Wijk says, ''If you use fuel cells to generate electricity in the parking garage, our 500-car garage will also be a 40 MW electricity plant.''
There is also an added bonus for car owners: they will actually be paid for parking. Van Wijk predicts that the fuel cell car will be the new, efficient and flexible electricity production park of the future.
''In one year we buy more electricity generating capacity via our cars than the electricity production capacity currently in place in the Netherlands.'' The greatest challenge, however, will be to innovate the energy industry and the legislation and regulations necessary for these changes.
Another project will be the Energy Wall sited alongside the Kruithuisweg, the motorway connecting the A13 and the railway station Delft Zuid. The wall generates energy, provides roadside lighting and  reduces the emission of particulates and noise. A people mover is planned to ride on top of the wall.

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