Electric Highway Developments
Ecotricity, a UK electricity company, has been expanding its network of electricity charging stations for cars. The company has teamed up with Nissan to create a network of fast charging stations along the M40 motorway that links London, Oxford and Birmingham. Fast charging stations allow electric cars to charge 80% of their battery power in around 30 minutes. Users of the charging facilities can now re-charge themselves with a coffee break whilst their car rapidly charges within half an hour. Ecotricity, mentioned in an earlier post , has been phasing out slow charging points (13 Amp which took 8-10 for a charge) and upgrading them to fast chargers (32 Amp) that should enable at least 80% of a full charge quickly.
The charging stations are currently free facilities although there is likely to be a point when a charge is introduced. For cars that run on electric the cost is typically only around 2.5 pence per mile (estimated from Electric Car News). The free charge is a real benefit that effectively cuts out the small per mile charge. Cars running on traditional fossil fuels are estimated to cost around 17 pence per mile in comparison. The time taken will be longer with the smaller distance range of electric cars but it makes economic sense and could be the “game changer” that Ecotricity predict. Ecotricity provide renewable energy solutions as their core business so the electricity generated will be low carbon. For additional information see the news article from Ecotricity.
Scotland to be sufficient in renewables by 2015?
Scotland is aiming to generate around 50% of its energy by renewable means by 2015. Currently, in 2011, it achieved 35% of electricity output in 2011. To meet 50% of the country’s demand by 2015 will be a big achievement but one that seems to be realistic. The country has a great wind resource, hydro potential and wave power potential that should be the envy of the world. Wind generation in 2011 was at a record high of 7,049 GWh and has more than doubled since 2007; Hydro generation in 2011 was at a record high of 5,310 GWh. Tidal power is not contributing as much now but if the development of the technology accelerates over the next 5 to 10 years then there will be real benefits to Scotland. Offshore and onshore wind farms are contributing to the main renewable energy resource.
The Scottish government estimate that around 11,000 jobs are supported by the renewable energy sector. This bodes well for economic development in the future and a more sustainable economy. Further details can be found on the Scottish Government website. There would be more merit in development of a reliable source of electricity from hydro power or tidal energy as wind power can be intermittent. On the tidal power front Ocean Power Technology is deploying a pilot tidal generation device, the Evopod in Sanda Sound, South Kintyre. The 35kW machine is grid connected and will provide information on the longer term performance of such systems. Details can be found on the Ocean Power web site. Scotland is putting itself in a strong and longer term sustainable position than other countries.
London to Brighton Eco Race
And the winner is…. the car that uses the least amount of energy for the 63 or so miles from the UK capital city to the south coast regency resort city. The RAC Future Car Challenge (FCC) is now an annual event to be held each November. The FCC will be staged each year during the same November weekend as the classic London to Brighton Veteran Car Run to actively promote, demonstrate and challenge new low-energy technology and echo the pioneering start of motoring in 1896. UK total car sales in May 2012 saw significant growth, of 31.8 per cent of sales, of hybrid petrol-electric, electric only and range extended cars. This is a clear message that this will be the future of motoring. Events such as this one held on the 3rd November will promote to a wider audience the fuel efficient vehicles.
So which vehicle won this event? It was Renault, with their new flagship electric car, the ZOE. The five-door ‘supermini’ has an official range of up 130 miles and can be charged to 80 per cent of its battery capacity in half an hour. The best regular car was the Vauxhall Ampera. The Renalt ZOE also won the best pure electric car.
In 2011 the winner was the Gordon Murray Design T.27. Details of the futuristic car can be found on the Gordon Murray web page here. The design is proving to be more energy efficient than other similar electric vehicles. Designs such as this will enable a far more sustainable transport system in the future. Ideally this car will be well suited to an urban environment where journeys are typically short. Given many journeys are less than 5 to 10 miles then this new car should cover those distances with ease and allow for those extra little detours that people may need to do from time to time. It consumed 7.0kWh of energy for the event.
The 2011 second place was the Smart fortwo coupe electric which consumed 8.3kWh. In third place was a Jaguar E-Type Electric, consuming 8.5kWh, which was the most energy efficient sports car. The most energy efficient regular car and the “best overall vehicle on sale at time of event” was given to the Nissan Leaf.
November’s round-up concludes that we are just starting to see a clustering on innovative electrical developments that will continue to develop and benefit us all in the next decade. There are more entrants with better products and that’s got to be good news.