Renewables

What is the solution to EV charging?

11th December 2019
Alex Lynn

The pace of change in our automotive lives has been extraordinary and it is by no means over yet. For example, imagine being able to charge an electric vehicle wirelessly while driving, without having to stop every time you need extra power. Well, there's a company working on it right now. They are developing a charging technology that is built into our highways. It is the solution, they say, for low cost, easy to deploy, reliable and clean EV charging.

It's a long way off and nobody is expecting the entire road network of the world to be so electrified. That simply isn't feasible in even a fairly long term but it is entirely possible in our cities and is especially ideal for public transport which is likely to be the first priority. For the foreseeable future we are still going to need our EV charging cables and wall mounted home charging points.

How does it work?

This high-tech solution to electric road charging is comprised of these main elements. A receiver, installed at the bottom of every bus or vehicle, enables the powering up of energy during a journey. Nothing is required of the driver. It transmits the energy directly to the motor in the same way that batteries do.

A copper coil, that is passive and comprises one metre segments, is added to the road infrastructure and located under the driving lanes. When a vehicle rides over a given segment, it transmits energy to the receiver.

There are many cost-saving benefits, we learn. For example, the system provides lower bus costs because the vehicle is almost battery-free which in turn means lower operational and maintenance costs. The technology also creates extra energy thanks to regenerative vehicle braking and can share that energy with other vehicles within the grid. It also save on battery space as the on-board battery unit can be much smaller and lighter as charging is ongoing.

What about electric cars?

It can already work with electric cars and Renault has given the company to test charging an electric Renault Zoe. For the moment though development is concentrated on the public sector as buses, unlike cars, have fixed routes. Nobody is saying this is going to be easy; electrifying public service vehicles in depots or at fast EV charging stations has many challenges.

In Sweden, a consortium has commenced building a demonstration road. It’s an initiative based on the above technology and it is set to be a world first to charge an electric truck and bus while in full motion. The plan is to deploy a fully functional public shuttle service along a special 1.6km electric road as part of a total route of just over 4km between the airport and centre of the town of Visby, itself a beacon of eco-excellence. If this test goes well then the project will be extended.

It makes sense: Imagine how long-distance heavy truck fleets could benefit from this system solution especially as no weighty and costly batteries, nor stops for charging, are needed. In time it is hoped that this form of EV charging will lead to cheaper public transportation that can operate twenty-four hours per day without the need for stopping to charge.

Don't hold your breath

Owners of battery electric cars are already seeing the advantages of this electric revolution even though they still need to carry a quality charging cable and stop occasionally when on long journeys. Yet, with a little imagination it is not hard to visualise a time when electric transport of all types are powered up as they go along. For now though, just enjoy the clean energy that drives us.

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