Volkswagen and Belgian utility giant partner on vehicle-to-grid energy storage

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Volkswagen is partnering with a Belgian network operator to integrate electric vehicles into the power grid, as more EVs take to the road amid rising energy costs.

Volkswagen’s charging unit Elli and re.alto, a startup owned by Brussels-based Elia, signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday to collaborate on ways to integrate EVs into the electricity system.

The multiyear partnership plans to identify barriers to EV integration and explore how powering the grid with EV batteries can help stabilize electricity costs and reduce energy prices.

The vehicle-to-grid concept allows customers to inject the electricity stored in their EV battery back into the grid, drawing energy from it when necessary. Volkswagen said the partnership will explore price incentives to encourage drivers to contribute to the electricity system when the vehicle is parked.

“The rapid rise in electric vehicles is reinforcing the need for cooperation between the electricity and mobility sectors,” Elia Group CEO Chris Peeters said in a statement. “We want to enable the increasing number of EV users to charge their EVs while keeping the electricity system in balance.

Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, has established scores of partnerships, subsidiaries and business units to speed the development of EVs. Formed in 2018, Elli manages the automaker’s charging and energy ventures, including the Flexpole quick-charging network in Europe.

The juggernaut formed a company in July called PowerCo to lead the automaker’s global battery business, from raw materials to recycling. Volkswagen plans to invest more than $20 billion to build six new battery plants across Europe by the end of the decade. The first two will be located in Salzgitter, Germany, and Valencia, Spain.

Volkswagen Group has also upped its original investment of $2 billion through 2026 to help its Electrify America subsidiary accelerate the rollout of ultra-fast charging stations in the U.S. and Canada.

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