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Volkswagen’s New Green Thing



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Remember the Volkswagen Type 181? The Kurierwagen? That car that was available in the early ‘70s?

Maybe this will ring a bell: It was called “The Thing.”



Well, boxy though that may have been, this is not the Thing. Yes, that’s a VW logo on that box. And yes, it is Thing-like in its boxiness.

What’s more, there is a VW engine contained therein, and it is a VW product, primarly produced in its engine plant in Salzgitter, Germany.

In addition to which, it has a name that is even more multisyllabic than the Kurierwagen: ZuhauseKraftwerk.

But as you notice, it doesn’t have wheels.

What this is is the “’EcoBlue’ CHP,” or combined heat and power plant, that is designed for home use.

ZuhauseKraftwerk? “Home Power Plant.”

VW is working with Germany energy supplier LichtBlick in a scheme whereby VW will manufacture these units and LichtBlick will network them. According to Dr. Christian Friege, CEO of LichtBlick, “You should think of our home power plants like a shoal of fish, with many small units pooling their resources to form a large, high-performance community that generates power. LichtBlick plans to network 100,000 of these home power plants to form the largest power plant in Germany.”

It is estimated that such a network is capable of generating 2,000 megawatts, approximately the output of two atomic power plants.

The ZuhauseKraftwerk is powered by natural gas. Plans are underway to make them biogas capable.

In the discussion in the U.S. about “green” jobs, one point about this shouldn’t be overlooked: Andreas Blechner, Volkswagen Works Council chairman, said, “At the Salzgitter plant alone, cooperation with LichtBlick could ensure sustainable employment for 160 people. Apart from the idea of clean energy, the employment prospects were the main reason for the Works Council to actively support the CHP proposal.”

Yes, there are green jobs for automotive.