Renault has launched a "smart island" in Portugal that uses its Zoe electric vehicle, home batteries, smart charging and vehicle-to-grid (V2E) energy storage to run without fossil fuels. The idea is to make the Madeira island of Porto Santo energy independent and stimulate renewable energy production. "[We want] to build a model that can be carried over to other islands and cities," Renault Electric Vehicle Director Eric Feunteun told Engadget.
Unlike Tesla's massive Powerpack installation, the Renault project is more of a community endeavor on the small (16 square mile) and sparsely populated (5,483 inhabitants), tourism-oriented island. It will unroll in three phases: In the first, 20 fortunate Porto Santo volunteers will get 14 Zoes and six Kango Z.E. utility vans to use every day. They'll benefit from 40 new connected public and private charging stations set up by Renault and local utility Empresa de Electricitade da Madeira (EEM).
"Let's say you come home from work at 7 PM with a decent charge left, and only need two to three hours of charging," said Feunteun. "The smart charging system we're testing will decide when the best time to do that is, based on usage, energy availability and other factors. Then, it can charge up to eight times a day in chunks as small as 15 minutes."