Stories about electric vehicles are regularly in the press, a key part in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. But, how are we going to power them?
In the UK, EV charging points are becoming more commonplace in shopping centre car parks and forecourts.
Around the world, vehicles are being powered in number of innovative ways…
Power from above
Electric roads using overhead charging have already been installed in Germany and Sweden.
Tests on a 2km stretch of the autobahn in Germany have been so successful that there are now plans to increase it to a 10km stretch running Frankfurt airport.
Project eHighway, managed by Siemens and funded by the German government, is seen as a possible way to help large truck and HGVs make the transition to electric power.
Stack ‘em high
In Shanghai, an American and Chinese architectural practice, Ennead Lab, was asked to develop a proposal for a typical ‘petrol station’ site and came up with an idea that combines existing charger technologies with current stack-parking technologies to create a charging tower.
Charging bays at ground level would be designated for super charging – giving around 100 mile’s charge in only 25 minutes.
The vehicles of drivers opting for a longer charge would be hoisted up into one of the multi-level storage bays for five-hours.
Architects Foster + Partner and Nissan have been working on a scheme to introduce wireless charging at street level and launched a prototype at The Geneva Motor Show in 2016.
They suggest that the cars themselves could be used to store and distribute renewable energy along ‘smart streets’.
In Sweden a new electric road has opened on the outskirts of Stockholm, linking Arlanda Airport with a nearby logistics area, providing an innovative solution to the problem of recharging the batteries of electric vehicles on the go.
A consortium of businesses and the Swedish Government have funded the project, which has developed and installed a 1.2km stretch of electric rail along the middle road.
The company, eRoadArlanda, believes the system offers the most cost-effective solution to the charging problem yet.
Specially designed cars and trucks draw energy from the road through a movable arm build into their chassis, which automatically detects when the rail is nearby, and lowers to charge the vehicle battery.
As the trucks move along the road, 50-metre lengths of track are electrified to provide a charge.
The amount of electricity used by each truck is tracked and billed to the owner.
The consortium’s chairman, Hans Sälle, said of the system, “It can be implemented in the existing infrastructure, it works for both passenger cars and heavy vehicles, which overhead charging doesn’t, and it’s very discreet from an aesthetic point of view.”
Business opportunity for UK electricians
These ideas show that it’s an exciting time for the Electric Vehicle industry.
UK manufacturers of EV charging points have witnessed a fast-growing demand for installation of their smaller-scale charging units, providing a business opportunity for electricians looking to diversify.
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