Energy Tile

location

umeå university​

concept. solutions

10 weeks​

collaborator

umeå energi

partners

simon / melissa

This is the result of the course Product Solutions, which was done in collaboration with the local energy provider Umeå Energi. During field visits, it became apparent that the daily peaks in energy usage are a big problem, as it puts strain on the grid and drives up the prices of the company’s electricity subscription. Also, the hard work put in to have a world class grid is lost on the customers. These two problems were solved by increasing the company’s presence in the cityscape, and storing energy with used car batteries in the grid itself.

animation  |  energy storage in the grid

Field research  |  6 departments visited

Johan, Umeå Energi
“One of the biggest problems we have today is the energy peaks, and it will get worse in the future.”
“We want to be closer to our customers. We want them to see and appreciate all the work we put into making a world-class electric grid.”

places visited

  • Headquarters: introduction 

  • Pole workers on high-voltage lines

  • Workers on underground lines

  • Sub- and network station service

  • Grid planners and managers

  • Aftercare workers & GPS-taggers

Daily energy consumption

energy peaks

"Ideally, Umeå's energy consumption, as seen from the power plant, would be even through-out the day."

“The peaks are created when everyone uses energy at the same time; in the mornings and afternoons.”

workshop

our solution  |  "old" electric vehicle batteries

Lifespan in grid:
Up to 10 years
Used EV batteries:
Still with a capacity of 70%

Only 5% of used electric wehicle batteries are recycled in the European Union.

According to the guardian:

Batteries are charged during night & day:

Used during peak hours to even out useage spikes

benefits of using old ev batteries

  • Evens out energy usage peaks

  • Energy backup for short outages or during short maintenance periods

  • Can store and distribute energy from renewables

  • Making use of the huge amounts of old car batteries with around  70% capacity left

the energy tile  |  Energy storage under ground

Fully loaded
In this state, the tub can even out energy peaks for up to 200 homes.
220 used EV battery cells = 2 kWh
Just one EV has thousands of these battery cells, meaning one car can fill several tubs with batteries.
Customize amount of cartridges
Depending on the size of neighbourhood or general need
Heating and cooling
The tub is well insulated, has a small "brain" and includes a converter box.
Outer tub
Sturdy with insulation and ventilation built in to keep the batteries at an acceptable temperature. Put in the ground like any electrical box.
Tile
Only visible part of the product, which can have many faces tailored to the specific neighbourhood/need.
Lid
Keeps the technology safe, dry and sealed off. This also means the Tile can be changed/repaired without the need to open up the tub.
Inner tub
This high-tech part will be installed after the outer tub is in the ground, allowing  easier installation and upgrades/repairs to the technology without having to dig up the tub.
A heritage tile
Modern, yet full of history. Emphasizes cultural values in the city.
It was important to give this technology a face, something townspeople can interact with and react to, and increase the presence of Umeå Energi.

the face of umeå energi

Seemingly simple
All the tech that benefits the citizens is hidden away, with only the various tiles visible throughout the city.