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As part of a research project , Audi is equipping households near Ingolstadt and Zürich with photovoltaic systems and stationary battery storage devices for its smart energy network. Control software from Zürich-based startup Ampard distributes the solar electricity to cars, households and heating based on current or expected demand.

The company has also planned to connect the public power grid and network the systems. This transforms battery storage devices from multiple households into a type of virtual power station that on the one hand takes in excessive energy, and on the other, can compensate for increased demand for several minutes during peaks in demand until major energy providers have powered up additional stations. In this way, operators of photovoltaic systems can increase their consumption of solar power while lowering their energy costs.

The smart energy network isn’t the first attempt of its kind. For several years, Munich-based startup Caterva , supported by Siemens, has pursued a similar goal, and has already launched several pilot projects . But currently, the company’s future is uncertain. After filing for bankruptcy in early 2018, the company is looking for new investors .