Report finds EVs create more and more of their own electricity

1st June 2017
Alice Matthews

As we move to the end game of energy independent electric aircraft, boats and land vehicles, the latest report from IDTechEx Research, Electric Vehicle Energy Harvesting/Regeneration 2017-2037, tells you how, where, why and when. Even conventional vehicles will benefit from these technologies in the meantime giving a seamless route to major commercial successes. Researched this year and constantly updated, it explains and forecasts the technologies involved in this newly essential key enabling technology.

EH/R will be as important and sometimes more important than motors, batteries and power electronics: fabulous opportunities await vehicle, parts and material manufacturers unplugging into this future.

The report clarifies the complexities and the future of both the technologies and the vehicles using the technologies with frank assessment revealing the promise for the future, the achievement now and the dead ends. Grasp the subject fast: derive your own slides easily.

The format of the report is an executive summary and conclusions sufficiently comprehensive to be read on its own, an introduction explaining terminology and options, chapters on the most promising technologies now and in the future - Electrodynamic, Photovoltaic, Triboelectric, Dielectric Elastomer Generator, Thermoelectric and Piezoelectric. It is shown how some are being proved in applications such as wave power but vehicle applications are in the roadmaps such as tires, sails, boat hulls and airship fabric that generate electricity and how many will combine into structural electronics. Components-in-a-box gives way to more reliable, more compact, lighter weight smart structural materials.

Electric vehicles are creating more and more of their own electricity from daylight, wind and other sources including regeneration. Regeneration converts wasted heat and movement in the vehicle into electricity, as with a turbine in the exhaust. More elegantly, regeneration prevents wasted heat and movement in the first place as with regenerative suspension giving a better ride and longer range and flywheels replacing burning brake disks. Shock absorbers can create electricity that controls them to give a smoother ride. Yes, it does make sense. Indeed it is the future.

Existing key enabling technologies will move over within the decade to add the new one - energy harvesting including regeneration. Within 20 years it will become a huge business as tens of millions of vehicles yearly are made as Energy Independent Vehicles (EIV) that get all their electricity without plugging in. The report explains many new EH technologies coming along including triboelectrics, thermal metamaterials, affordable GaAs photovoltaics, flywheels and dielectric elastomer nanogenerators. With these, energy harvesting will be the most important technology of all and much of it will be a materials play. Increasingly the energy companies and charging networks will be bypassed completely by the land, water and airborne vehicles starting to appear now. We reveal the significance of breakthroughs by little known vehicle and material companies such as Hanergy, Inergy, Sunnyclist, Sion, Nanowinn and others as we interview them from Greece to China, Australia to Canada and the UK.

Multi-mode energy harvesting is analysed and recommended: it reduces and sometimes eliminates the need for those expensive, bulky, heavy batteries that do not last long enough. Even multi-mode harvesting e-textiles and plastic film are in prospect. Think car seats to bodywork and tires.

The report is supported by a detailed 20 year technological roadmap and ten year forecasts of electric vehicles in 46 categories embracing on-road and off-road, on-water and underwater, manned and unmanned versions. Only IDTechEx has that detail. When you look at this big picture, the potential for both technology and vehicle suppliers is far greater than it first seems to be. This is the only report to look at all the technologies and all of the vehicles that will adopt them. It is authoritative: for example we just had extended discussions with the research teams of top vehicle manufacturers on the subject when we accepted invitations to present to them in both the USA and Japan.

The PhD level IDTechEx analysts are mostly multilingual and they are strategically placed in the Japan, the USA, Germany, the UK and elsewhere and they all travel intensively. IDTechEx events on the subject - including the largest in the world on energy harvesting - give us the inside track too. Dr Peter Harrop has reported on EVs for 20 years: he is globally recognised as a leading expert.

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