Interview Quantum Grid out of the Box
Our entire existence depends on electricity; life without it is unimaginable. Yet that is exactly the reality for 789 million people worldwide, mostly from isolated areas and developing countries, every day (as of 06/2020). Melissa Schubert (Xyna Marketing) and DocBernd from GIP AG's FutureLab discuss GIP's future visions for the development of an electricity grid in these areas, how it could extremely improve people's lives and how the GIP could contribute to climate protection.
MS: DocBernd, what opportunities would open up for people in developing countries if they had access to electricity?
BR: For me, electricity is a human right. The Western world is only so advanced and innovative today because we had access to electricity early on, enabling us to implement ideas, produce goods, communicate with suppliers and market participants, and ultimately reach end customers. In large parts of Africa, precisely this kind of further development and economic efficiency is not possible because there is no stable connection to electricity and the Internet.
MS: And how can the Future Energy division of GIP AG improve the situation here?
BR: Based on our patented Quantum Grid, we have developed the Quantum Grid out of the Box (QGootB) precisely for such isolated areas. Energy is sent through the routers on the basis of small energy packets, and we use the Xyna software product of our investment for control. Each user receives a delivery of solar panels for energy generation, a battery for short-term energy storage, the Quantum Grid Power Router for energy management, and special cables to connect all the grid elements together. A single QGootB can maintain power to a single home without the need for an electrician. In the next step, the Quantum Grid routers of the individual houses are interconnected via prefabricated cables to create a local power grid. Again, no installation is required, just plug the cables into the correct connector. Fluctuations in individual houses can now be balanced out among each other.
Imagine you live in one of these villages, are almost not at home during the day and only need a little electricity in the evening for cooking - of course you will not use all the short-term stored electricity from the battery. Your neighbor, however, runs a garage and needs much more electricity than his solar panel can generate - then you run with your cable to the neighbor and connect your routers with it, negotiate a price for the electricity, and are happy that you also made money with the electricity networking. Thinking further, the neighbor could also additionally purchase electricity from others, which would in consequence form an ever larger electricity network. Depending on the contracts, the Quantum Grid router then self-organizes to determine an optimal path and routes the ordered energy packets from the router in node A to the router in node B at the specified time.
MS: How would that be beneficial for climate protection?
BR: By, for example, no longer having to cook and heat with wood, since electricity would now be available for this purpose, wood clearing could be stopped, biodiversity and tree populations could be preserved, and CO2 emissions could also be reduced.
MS: You say the battery that comes with it only stores electricity for a short time. But if there are longer periods of darkness, such as a sandstorm, no more power generation would be possible - is there a solution here?
BR: Exactly, our battery is designed to bridge short periods of darkness at night. Long-term storage would be an ideal complement to the QGootB, as it would naturally make power available for longer periods of time. This is especially important for critical local infrastructure, for example hospitals, water treatment plants, or even for the individual themselves to continue to live and work. Recently, hydrogen-based storage solutions have been developed that could add long-term storage to QGootB. Two solutions are particularly promising in this regard: startup Home Power Solutions has launched a system called Picea that acts as a power storage, heating support, and ventilation unit all in one. In this system, components such as a battery, electrolyzer and fuel cell work together in an efficient manner. The result is 100 times the storage capacity (300 kWh) of conventional batteries, allowing a single-family home to be completely self-sufficient year-round, using stored solar energy from summer in winter. Another option has been developed by the Australian company Lavo. Its battery stores 40 kWh of energy, which is equivalent to the average two-day consumption of an Australian single-family home. The solar energy storage system generates hydrogen from water, stores it, generates electricity by converting hydrogen to electricity, and delivers that electricity to the home at a regulated voltage. Both long-term storage systems would therefore be an interesting and future-relevant extension for the QGootB.