sun2wheel | Will the washing machine run on electricity from the e-car in the future?

Will the washing machine run on electricity from the e-car in the future?

10. August 2021

A Swiss start-up wants to use batteries from electric vehicles in a variety of ways – including as a power supplier for the home.

Many vehicles are often only on the road for a short time. To a large extent, they stand in a parking lot without use. This also applies to electric cars. That’s an unused resource, Basel engineers think. They want to use the e-cars as mobile batteries.

We need batteries that are already here anyway. This way we save resources.

- Dominik Müller, Start-up Sun2wheel

The goal, he says, is to use existing batteries in a more diverse way so that less has to be produced overall. “We use batteries that are already here anyway and don’t have to install new ones,” says Dominik Müller from the start-up Sun2wheel. This saves resources, he adds.

The concept is attracting interest in Zunzgen in the canton of Baselland, for example. The municipality is planning to renovate its school buildings. Municipal councillor Pascal Eberle says: “We could imagine using the school building roofs to produce solar power in the future.” The approach of the start-up Sun2wheel could be used to store the electricity.

Dominik Müller of Sun2wheel is considered a solar pioneer. He explains the advantages of their solution to the local council. A school building in particular is ideally suited for this, says Müller: “In summer, the school building would produce more energy with photovoltaics than is consumed. If the e-cars deliver the electricity home in the evening, that could be a step into the energy future.”

In the process, the start-up would supply the system for charging and discharging e-cars. According to Müller, the potential is great. He calculates that 100,000 e-cars could supply as much power as a nuclear power plant for a short time, or about 1 gigawatt. “That would be enough to supply around 200,000 single-family homes with electricity for a day.”

Are car owners willing to sacrifice flexibility?

SRF science editor Daniel Theis, who closely follows developments in the energy sector, also sees potential in the concept. “The idea is actually not new in theory. But I find it exciting that a company is now actually presenting a solution to the technical challenges. At this point, however, it’s still unclear exactly how the electricity system of the future will shape up and whether that means batteries will be needed in homes at all.”

Theis sees further hurdles for the project: “One problem could be that the service life of the batteries decreases with more frequent charging and discharging cycles. Are customers willing to put up with that?” Theis sees another problem in usage habits. After all, car owners often wanted as much flexibility as possible. But if a large part of the electricity from the e-car was used overnight in the house, it is no longer possible to cover long distances spontaneously. This requires forward planning and is a limitation.

Building with a lot of electricity from photovoltaics wanted

The problem with the charging cycles is negligible, says Sun2wheel. The use of the vehicle as a temporary storage is slow and therefore gentle. The wear and tear on the batteries is therefore low. Nevertheless, the start-up is still in its infancy. So far, ten systems are in operation in Switzerland.

“We are now looking for properties with photovoltaics or potential for it. Some municipalities and also Basel-Stadt have already knocked on our door,” says entrepreneur Dominik Müller. The chances of proving their system in the Basel-Country municipality of Zunzgen are good. Local councillor Kurt Ost is enthusiastic about the concept: “As a municipality, we should set a good example. If we’re going to rebuild anyway, it’s worthwhile to rely on modern energy technology in particular.”