Ford and start­up Rhein­Shar­ing want to con­vert Rhine hydropow­er into energy

Ford and the start-up Rhein­Shar­ing, which emerged from an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary stu­dent ini­tia­tive at Cologne Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty (TH), have signed a mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing. The six auto­mo­tive engi­neer­ing and archi­tec­ture stu­dents had won sec­ond place in the Ford Fund Smart Mobil­i­ty Chal­lenge in March this year with their idea to har­vest renew­able ener­gy from the flow of the Rhine Riv­er and use it direct­ly to pow­er mobil­i­ty sta­tions to pow­er elec­tric vehi­cles. Based on the design devel­oped in the com­pe­ti­tion for the Rhein­auhafen in Cologne, a con­cept for the Ford fac­to­ry site, also locat­ed on the Rhine, is to be devel­oped as part of the coop­er­a­tion. The basic aim is to inves­ti­gate for the Cologne-Niehl site whether the use of new types of hydropow­er plants in the Rhine to gen­er­ate cli­mate-neu­tral elec­tric­i­ty would also be pos­si­ble in prac­tice. Part of the fea­si­bil­i­ty study are mea­sure­ments of the flow veloc­i­ty, ener­gy gen­er­a­tion fore­casts or cost estimates.

Rhein­Shar­ing pur­sues the idea of devel­op­ing sus­tain­able mobil­i­ty con­cepts for urban areas. This gave rise to the idea of com­bin­ing inno­v­a­tive hydro­elec­tric pow­er plants with sus­tain­able archi­tec­ture in order to gen­er­ate green elec­tric­i­ty from the flow ener­gy of the Rhine and use it for the sus­tain­able expan­sion of the charg­ing infra­struc­ture in Cologne. The ener­gy sup­ply of near­by charg­ing sys­tems for elec­tric vehi­cles and micro-mobil­i­ty offers lends itself to the low-loss and direct on-site use of renew­able energy.

Hydro­elec­tric pow­er plays a major role at Ford in Cologne any­way. The Cologne plant has already been sourc­ing 100 per­cent of its elec­tric­i­ty from hydropow­er plants in Aus­tria, Switzer­land and Scan­di­navia since Jan­u­ary 2018.