NAMIBIA – TWO United Nation’s development agencies collaborated to launch Namibia’s first-ever electric vehicle project and vehicle-grid-integration as momentum builds up on the zero emissions movement.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said talks on the electric car project started in 2016 and ended this year.

“The talks for this project started in 2016 and I am happy that we are finally ready to showcase this project to Namibia and the world,” UNDP resident representative Alka Bhatia said.

She added the electric cars that were showcased come with a vehicle-grid-integration that sets these cars apart from other electric cars.

Vehicle grid integration (VGI) is a way in which the electric vehicles can provide benefits or services to the grid by using bi-directional charging or managing the charging time and levels.

Using a VGI charging station enables stored energy in the electric vehicles to be sold back to the grid, and it can also provide building load peak shaving and energy shifting, among many other benefits which reduce the cost of owning an electric vehicle in the country office.

“To that end, electric cars must have the capability to manage charging or support two-way interaction between vehicles and the grid. Managed charging refers to the technical capability to modulate the electric charging of the vehicle through delay, throttling to draw more or less electricity, or switching load on or off,” a follow-up statement issued read.

Two-way interaction refers to the controlled absorption and discharge of power between the grid and a vehicle battery or a building and a vehicle battery.

Bhatia said that Nissan South Africa donated the two Nissan leaf electric vehicles, while electric company Nuvve donated the two charging stations.

“This is a pilot project that we hope to scale up and the purpose of this showcase is to test the solution, gain experience and collect data. Demonstrating the solution to internal and external stakeholders will serve to trigger widespread adoption across the country,” she said.

According to Bhatia, the UN House Namibia has installed a 104kWp solar PV system, which has been connected to the electric vehicles via the bi-directional power charger.

She added that although the primary use of the power generated by the solar system is to supplement power needs of the UN compound, any excess power generated will be used to charge the electric vehicles.

The UN representative explained that electric vehicles may serve as a power source, if the grid power goes down, supplying power to primary appliances like lighting, communication equipment and possibly refrigeration.