Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging — Will it Work?

Parking_bays_for_electric_cars

It’s intended to take the hassle out of electric vehicle charging, and, according to its designers, Qualcomm, is a simple but effective alternative to cumbersome plug-in charging stations. Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) is designed to eliminate unsightly charging stations and unnecessary cables, and with just about everything else we use today incorporating wireless technology, it seems like the next logical step for the plight of the eco-friendly car. Here we look at how plausible the innovative idea is before it goes on trial in London in November.

How would it work?

Wireless charging makes use of an electromagnetic field which transfers energy between two objects. The idea is that drivers will be able to park up at a charging station and have their vehicle recharged without even leaving their seat. Those who struggle to remember the basics of parallel parking from their driving lessons need not worry, as perfect pad and vehicle alignment won’t be necessary.

The technology, named Qualcomm Halo, will incorporate smaller batteries than are currently used at charging stations, but Qualcomm explains that drivers will be able to charge their car little and often, with increasing convenience. As these spaces will remain reserved for electric vehicle owners, there will hopefully be an increase in those converting from fuel cars.

The London experiment

The main vehicle test will be carried out using a specially adapted Delta Motorsport E4 Coupe. The Formula 1 car designer was required to add the pad to the vehicle in order to connect it to the road unit, as well as a touch screen interface to let the driver know when he or she is aligned with the charging pad.

Throughout the trial, charging pads stationed at Qualcomm’s West London office and at minicab company Addison Lee, will be put into practice. The initiative, supported by Prime Minister David Cameron is designed to demonstrate how WEVC can work in busy cities, such as London.

Time, or rather the lack of it, is everything in the city, so the option of quick, easy, and readily available charging is particularly appealing. With many making short but frequent trips, presumably the need for more charging pads will grow, as, hopefully, will the market for eco-friendly vehicles. As an added incentive, drivers of electric cars can expect to avoid the daily cost of London’s congestion charge.

So, is it plausible?

In short, yes. Technology is ever advancing, and Qualcomm Halo not only recognizes this, but also promotes the needed reduction of fuel emissions.

It’s not, however, alone in its wireless charging quest, with a similar trial already underway in Germany. Concept vehicles have also emerged from both Rolls-Royce, Delphi, and Infiniti/Nissan that include wireless charging technology. GoogleHertz, and Plugless Power are also testing out wireless charging technology. And researchers in Tokyo have created an electric roadway demo that wirelessly charges EVs.

Although wireless charging is designed, first and foremost, for city driving, it remains to be seen if it could ever work outside of the city. The fact that motorists may well require a car for both urban and rural driving, therefore, poses a problem.

Eco-friendly driving constantly comes up against questions of how practical it is, and Qualcomm’s idea is no exception. Certainly, the short-term vision has a lot of promise, but the long-term success of WEVC remains to be seen.

This guest post was written by an eco-friendly driver and blogger, Isabelle Guarella, on behalf of PassSmart.com.

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1m5rg)

Obama Administration Finalizes Historic 54.5 mpg Fuel Efficiency Standards/ Consumer Savings Comparable to Lowering Price of Gasoline by $1 Per Gallon by 2025

WASHINGTON, DC – The Obama Administration today finalized groundbreaking standards that will increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. When combined with previous standards set by this Administration, this move will nearly double the fuel efficiency of those vehicles compared to new vehicles currently on our roads. In total, the Administration’s national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.

“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said President Obama. “This historic agreement builds on the progress we’ve already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption. By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today. It’ll strengthen our nation’s energy security, it’s good for middle class families and it will help create an economy built to last.”

The historic standards issued today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) build on the success of the Administration’s standards for cars and light trucks for Model Years 2011-2016. Those standards, which raised average fuel efficiency by 2016 to the equivalent of 35.5 mpg, are already saving families money at the pump.

Achieving the new fuel efficiency standards will encourage innovation and investment in advanced technologies that increase our economic competitiveness and support high-quality domestic jobs in the auto industry. The final standards were developed by DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and EPA following extensive engagement with automakers, the United Auto Workers, consumer groups, environmental and energy experts, states, and the public. Last year, 13 major automakers, which together account for more than 90 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States, announced their support for the new standards. By aligning Federal and state requirements and providing manufacturers with long-term regulatory certainty and compliance flexibility, the standards encourage investments in clean, innovative technologies that will benefit families, promote U.S. leadership in the automotive sector, and curb pollution.

“Simply put, this groundbreaking program will result in vehicles that use less gas, travel farther, and provide more efficiency for consumers than ever before—all while protecting the air we breathe and giving automakers the regulatory certainty to build the cars of the future here in America,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Today, automakers are seeing their more fuel-efficient vehicles climb in sales, while families already saving money under the Administration’s first fuel economy efforts will save even more in the future, making this announcement a victory for everyone.”

“The fuel efficiency standards the administration finalized today are another example of how we protect the environment and strengthen the economy at the same time,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Innovation and economic growth are already reinvigorating the auto industry and the thousands of businesses that supply automakers as they create and produce the efficient vehicles of tomorrow. Clean, efficient vehicles are also cutting pollution and saving drivers money at the pump.”

The Administration’s combined efforts represent the first meaningful update to fuel efficiency standards in decades. Together, they will save American families more than $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs, resulting in an average fuel savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 over the lifetime of the vehicle. For families purchasing a model Year 2025 vehicle, the net savings will be comparable to lowering the price of gasoline by approximately $1 per gallon. Additionally, these programs will dramatically reduce our reliance on foreign oil, saving a total of 12 billion barrels of oil and reducing oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day by 2025 – as much as half of the oil we import from OPEC each day.

The standards also represent historic progress to reduce carbon pollution and address climate change. Combined, the Administration’s standards will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks in half by 2025, reducing emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program – more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010.

President Obama announced the proposed standard in July 2011, joined by Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volvo, as well as the United Auto Workers. The State of California and other key stakeholders also supported the announcement and were integral in developing this national program.

In achieving these new standards, EPA and NHTSA expect automakers’ to use a range of efficient and advanced technologies to transform the vehicle fleet. The standards issued today provide for a mid-term evaluation to allow the agencies to review their effectiveness and make any needed adjustments.

Major auto manufacturers are already developing advanced technologies that can significantly reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions beyond the existing model year 2012-2016 standards. In addition, a wide range of technologies are currently available for automakers to meet the new standards, including advanced gasoline engines and transmissions, vehicle weight reduction, lower tire rolling resistance, improvements in aerodynamics, diesel engines, more efficient accessories, and improvements in air conditioning systems. The program also includes targeted incentives to encourage early adoption and introduction into the marketplace of advanced technologies to dramatically improve vehicle performance, including:

Incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cells vehicles;

Incentives for hybrid technologies for large pickups and for other technologies that achieve high fuel economy levels on large pickups;

Incentives for natural gas vehicles;

Credits for technologies with potential to achieve real-world greenhouse gas reductions and fuel economy improvements that are not captured by the standards test procedures.

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1lWlH)

New Construction Methods Could Make Offshore Wind Turbines More Efficient

A Cambridge University engineer is urging the wind power industry to look at the designs for offshore wind turbines in an effort to increase their efficiency and decrease the amount of energy required to produce and install the massive towers at sea.

Jim Platts of the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge believes that the wind power sector could achieve much higher payback ratios if turbines were installed using guyed towers rather than the heavy free-standing towers currently in use.

“The development of the wind turbine industry, and the way in which it works with the civil engineers who make the heavy supporting towers and foundations, which are not visible out at sea once the turbines are installed, mean that we have ignored something which is almost embarrassingly obvious in our race to meet the targets set for renewable energy production,” said Platts.

“We urgently need to reduce the high levels of energy embedded in offshore wind turbines which make them both ineffective in energy payback and costly in financial terms. We can do this fairly easily if we invest in more innovative methods for making and installing the towers and foundations that support them.”

The effectiveness of a wind turbine is determined by one key figure: it’s harvesting ratio.

This ratio is a measure of the energy it provides compared to the amount of energy required to manufacture the tower.

Wind turbines comprise three main elements: the blades that harness the wind energy; the gearbox and generator mechanisms that produce the electricity; the tower that supports these moving parts; and the foundations that hold the tower in place. The tower is conventionally made of steel and the foundation in steel and concrete.

A turbine used on land will see two-thirds of the total energy invested to produce the tower embeeded in the moving parts, with the final third invested into the tower structure. Onshore turbines usually achieve a harvesting ratio of 40:1.

However, when you situate a turbine offshore, with the need for heavier towers and massive foundations, the harvesting ratio drops to 15:1. “When you look at offshore wind turbines you see a series of slim structures – what you don’t see are the far heavier supporting structures below the surface that they slot into,” said Platts.

“Steel is prone to corrosion and to fatigue,” Platts added. “This begs the question: could we do better with other materials. The answer is yes, we can use composites for towers just as we do for blades. They are lighter, stronger, corrosion free and more resilient than steel.”

A preliminary study conducted by the University Institute for Manufacturing suggests that guyed towers could offer significant advantages that conventional heavy towers lack. The use of steel cables fixed to the sea bed by screw anchors could result in significantly slimmer towers and less weighty foundations.

The study found that with the resulting reduction in steel and concrete, the harvesting ratio would increase to 25:1.

“The use of guyed towers is just the first step for the industry to take. The second step would be to make towers in composite materials which are less energy intensive to make than steel which relies on smelting and concrete that also depends on a chemical reduction process in manufacturing cement.  Composites also have a longer life than steel as they stand up to fatigue much better. Using these new materials could increase the harvesting ratio still further to 32:1 and extend the lifetime of a turbine installation from the present 20 years to up to 60 years,” said Platts.

“The Finnish wind turbine manufacturer Mervento has shown the way with a guyed turbine designed for use in the Baltic. Other producers – such as those making turbines for sites in the North Sea – need to take heed and invest in research into designs that take a similar approach to making the industry far more energy efficient and sustainable.”

Source: University of Cambridge
Image Source: Phil Hollman

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1liJr)

Fueling Stations of the Future Here Now

The 21st century’s just about sure to see the end of what, in terms of human evolution, has been aptly dubbed “The Fossil Fuel Era.” The transition to cleaner, renewable forms of energy and power — be it for lighting, heating, cooling or industry — is (pardon the pun) gaining steam. And while gains are slower and more difficult to come by, the same can be said when it comes to transportation, that other major component of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

A growing number of entrepreneurial companies — from multinational giants such as GE to small-scale newcomers, such as Tesla, A123, and a bevy of others — are hard at work developing electric, flex and hybrid fuel vehicles, as well as the infrastructure to support them.

Electric vehicle (EV) sales jumped 164% year-over-year in June. Sales of the Lexus CT200h increased 500%, while Chevy Volt sales surged 200% higher, according to the Kelley Blue Book Market Report.

There’s good reason to believe that this surge in the search and development of clean, alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure will be different; that a drop in oil, gasoline and diesel prices won’t be enough to derail progess, as happened in the eighties and nineties subsequent to the oil crises of the 1970s. Two news items this past week provide supporting evidence.

Of Skypumps and Solar Trees

GE’s industrial division and Urban Green Energy (UGE) came out with word that the first installation of their Sanya Skypump is up and running at the headquarters of environmental services company Cespa near Barcelona, Spain. Integrating New York–based Urban Green Energy’s 4-kW vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) and GE’s DuraStation EV chargers, the Sanya Skypump points the way toward fueling stations of the future that gather all the energy they need from the wind.

Along a similar vein, San Diego’s Envision Solar announced it has successfully completed engineering and manufacturing of its first run of pre-cast concrete columns for its Solar Tree arrays. Parking lots are ideal sites for Envision’s Solar Trees. Combine them with EV chargers and you have a clean, renewable fueling station right where EV motorists need and want it.

The Sanya Skypump can fully charge EVs in 4-8 hours, using electricity produced by UGE’s 4-kW VAWT, which stands 42 feet high, according to the partner companies. Winds of at least 7 mph are needed to generate electricity.

Plans are in the works to install Sanya Skypump EV fueling stations in the US and Australia before year-end, GE and UGE say. Sites include shopping malls and universities, as well as other locations.

A big advantage of the Sanya Skypump wind-powered EV fueling station is its installation time. The entire system takes less than two hours to get up and running, the companies say.

Envision Solar’s new pre-cast Solar Tree concrete columns are part of its “Drag & Drop Infrastructure” product line, one that “offers much faster, more efficient deployment of Solar Tree structures,” the company explains.

“We are continually leveraging technology to increase our efficiency and quality. We call this new modularized approach: Drag & Drop Infrastructure™ — creating the shortest possible time and ease for deploying the best solar shaded parking products in the industry with the least disruption in the field,” Envision Solar president and CEO Desmond Wheatley elaborated.

“That means lower costs, lower risks, higher quality and higher customer satisfaction. We have to take these steps in order to efficiently meet the volume demands that our business development activities will be creating. We are in this to deploy thousands of Solar Tree arrays and we are going to have to be highly efficient to get that done.”

Manufacturing the concrete columns in a controlled environment enables Envision to produce the highest quality results. It also makes for much more efficient installations. The new Solar Tree columns enable Envision to install the solar PV structures in hours rather than the days or even weeks required for columns that are cast in place, director of Program Management Peter Seiler added.

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1le69)

Electric Hybrid Trucks & SUVs from Via Motors Could Be a Game Changer

Don’t look now, but it looks like the evolution of electric automobiles may finally be turning towards trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) thanks to Via Motors.

Recently, I watched a video featuring Jay Leno’ s Garage. In the 12-minute video, Leno discusses what “more or less is a truck version of the Chevy Volt,” called VTrux. Via Motors board member Bob Lutz, who was instrumental in getting the Chevy Volt off the ground, further discussed the potential of these new hybrid electric trucks and SUVs in the market.

What I found interesting is that the new hybrid electric pickup truck will allow you to drive the first 40 miles purely on electricity, resulting in close to zero emissions. That is partly thanks to a 24kWh Li-ion battery pack as part of the Via Motors Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) power train. The vehicle takes about four hours to charge at 220, according to CarTech.

After it reaches the first 40 miles, a small V6 engine can give the truck an extra 400 miles, according to Lutz.

The new hybrid electric trucks will get around 100 estimated miles per gallon in fuel economy, according to Via Motors website. The company even points out that the new electric hybrid trucks can cut 75% off fuel costs. Meanwhile, charging the vehicle daily can possibly reduce refilling the gas tank to even less than ten times a year, and cost six cents per mile (driving in electric mode).

General Motors builds the basic specs of the truck, then sends it to Via Motors, who then electrically modifies it, Lutz said.

Currently, the first deliveries are going to big fleets, including PG&E, who are testing it out, Lutz said.  He expects high-volume production of standardized vehicles is eight to nine months out.

While some may have moaned about gas-guzzling SUV and pick-up trucks as environmentally unsustainable in the past (or even today), and sales of SUVs and pickup trucks have slowed in recent years, the idea of a hybrid electric pickup truck may pump some new life into the truck market, as Lutz acknowledged in the video. He noted that the drop in sales is due to high gas prices and their negative environmental impact. Of course, electric hybrid trucks get around both of those hurdles.

Sources:  egm CarTechVia Motors
Image Credit: VTrux via Flickr

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1kRAV)

Urban Green Energy and GE Announce First Sanya Skypump Installation

BARCELONA, Spain–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Urban Green Energy (UGE) and GE (GE) have unveiled the world’s first integrated wind-powered electric vehicle charging station. The innovative Sanya Skypump pairs UGE’s cutting-edge vertical wind turbines with GE’s electric vehicle (EV) charging technology to offer completely clean energy to power electric vehicles.

Installed by UGE Iberia, the Spanish branch of New York-based Urban Green Energy, the first wind-powered EV charging station is located at Cespa’s global headquarters near Barcelona. Cespa is the environmental services subsidiary of Ferrovial Servicios, the world’s largest private transportation infrastructure investor.

More Sanya Skypumps will be installed later this year in the U.S. and Australia at shopping malls, universities and other locations.

The integrated system incorporates both the energy production capacity of UGE’s 4K wind turbine and the EV charging capability of the GE Durastation in a single unit, with all required electrical systems located within the tower.

Designed for commercial and government customers, the Sanya Skypump combines environmental benefits with a strong statement to customers and the public.

“Since launching the Sanya Skypump, we have received inquiries from companies around the world that are looking to embrace sustainability,” said Nick Blitterswyk, CEO of UGE. “The Sanya Skypump is one of those rare products that enable institutions to demonstrate their commitment to the environment while providing a really useful service as well.”

The Sanya Skypump delivers power through a GE DuraStation EV charger, which enables faster charging using higher voltages.

Charles Elazar, marketing director of GE Energy Management’s Industrial Solutions business in Europe, says, “GE is launching a family of electric vehicle charging systems in Europe offering domestic and commercial users a range of easy-to-use, flexible systems to help make electric vehicles a practical, everyday reality.”

GE is a keen supporter of electric vehicles and has announced plans to purchase 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015 for use as company cars and to lease to corporate customers through its Fleet Services business.

About Urban Green Energy

With installations in over 65 countries, including installations for several government agencies and Fortune 100 companies, UGE is changing the face of distributed renewable energy. UGE puts users in control of their energy source by designing and manufacturing more versatile wind turbines and hybrid wind/solar systems for use in applications ranging from residential to commercial, from suburban US homeowners to off-grid telecoms towers in rural Africa. Visitwww.urbangreenenergy.com today to learn how together we can create a greener tomorrow.

About GE

GE (GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.ge.com.

GE Energy works connecting people and ideas everywhere to create advanced technologies for powering a cleaner, more productive world. With more than 100,000 employees in over 100 countries, our diverse portfolio of product and service solutions and deep industry expertise help our customers solve their challenges locally. We serve the energy sector with technologies in such areas as natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear energy; wind, solar, biogas and water processing; energy management; and grid modernization. We also offer integrated solutions to serve energy- and water-intensive industries such as mining, metals, marine, petrochemical, food & beverage and unconventional fuels.

Follow GE’s Industrial Solutions business on Twitter @GEindustrial and @GE_WattStation.

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Walmart Reveals 1st Industrial On-Site Wind Turbine Project

The Red Bluff, California Walmart distribution center was revealed as its first on-site industrial sized wind turbine pilot project.

With a height of 265 feet tall, along with a diameter of 250 feet, the new GE 1.0 megawatt (MW) wind turbine will create close to 2,200,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) yearly, the statement said.

Foundation Windpower, as part of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Walmart, will manage, install and own the turbine. Meanwhile, Walmart will buy the power under the agreement.

It’s also expected the PPA will provide energy savings, along with a guaranteed price for the electricity created.

In the statement, Greg Pool, senior manager of renewable energy and emissions at Walmart, and project manager of the Red Bluff Installation, had this to say on the project:

“We are using every tool in the tool box as we work toward our goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, and wind energy is an attractive technology for Walmart.”

“We found the perfect environment for an installation with the Red Bluff project – good wind conditions and open land that we own.  As a result, we expect to reduce our energy costs from the day we flip the on switch. Should the technology at Red Bluff prove successful, Walmart will evaluate the potential for large-scale turbine installations at other distribution center sites in the United States.”

The on-site wind turbine at Walmart’s distribution centre is just some of the sustainable development initiatives the large corporation has spearheaded lately in its drive to push renewable energy use. Some other projects include the recent 100th solar installation in California, 348 Mexican Walmart stores being supplied by wind power, and 26 fuel cell sites in California providing local energy to Sam’s club and Walmart stores.

Source: Stockhouse.com
Image Credit: Red Bluff, California Turbine via The Walmart Greenroom 

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1kjqr)