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.