Holy Trinity of Electrical Renewables
For those that haven’t noticed, there is a quiet revolution happening in the transport sector.
The electrification of transport is not a new idea but, largely due to increased public concerns over air quality, it is one that is finally gathering momentum. Air pollution is currently killing around 40,000 UK citizens every year while consecutive governments have ignored the problem, or made it worse with ill-considered legislation and tax incentives. London will be the first of many cities and towns to attempt to improve its air quality with the introduction of Ultra-low emission zones and pollution charging will quickly encourage drivers out of diesel and petrol vehicles in favour of an electric car, bus or taxi.
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Another factor driving the uptake of electric vehicles (EV’s) is the increased choice on offer. No longer restricted to a few quirky designs and legislative box ticking by manufacturers, electric vehicles have gone mainstream and, despite a certain reluctance from dealerships, whose business models rely heavily on service and maintenance of internal combustion engines (ICE’s), established vehicle manufacturers have seen the rapid growth and success of Tesla, now worth more than Ford or GM, and have decided not to be left behind. With around 1% of the moving parts of an ICE car, reluctance by some dealerships to promote EV’s is perhaps understandable but the manufacturers are now committed and it is no surprise that a well-known Korean car maker recently launched an on-line buying facility shortly before the launch of their latest electric model.
As well as the benefits of reduced carbon and particulate emissions, once they try them, consumers are finding EV’s a real pleasure to drive. They are of course quieter and smoother and, with instant torque and good weight distribution, they generally have excellent acceleration and handling. Tesla have also shown that electric vehicles can be highly desirable, and the high end of the market is being populated by a host of supercar start-ups as well as established premium brands like Mercedes, Porsche, Aston Martin and Jaguar Landrover.
The three most often quoted deterrents for customers, that would otherwise consider electric vehicles, of cost, range and charging infrastructure are quickly disappearing. The increase in global battery manufacturing capacity is driving down costs and competition is fuelling investment in technical improvements to battery energy density and, although over 90% of UK car journeys could easily be accommodated by a first generation EV, newer models have a single charge range that removes any anxiety while deployment of public access charge-points continues to gather pace and most, if not all petrol stations will soon join motorway services, hotels and supermarkets with a network of rapid chargers.
One argument that is occasionally raised against the immediate and mass adoption of EV’s is the consequences for the electricity grid and the increased requirement of fossil fuels to generate the electricity needed to drive them. Thankfully the electric transport revolution goes hand-in-hand with that of batteries and closely follows that of renewable energy. Solar and on-shore wind are now the cheapest forms of new generating capacity, with off-shore wind not far behind, and batteries are being deployed to solve capacity and intermittency issues, and second use EV batteries being used to support charge-points. There is no doubt we need a smart energy infrastructure where energy is stored at times of high generation to be used at times of peak demand with non-essential loads managed accordingly and the good news is that these technologies are being installed today at domestic, commercial and utility scale
It has been called the holy trinity of the low carbon sector and it is easy to see why the combination of solar PV, battery storage and electric vehicle charge-points is an attractive proposition. POWERi Services are experts in the design and installation of renewable energy systems, energy storage and smart EV chargers and are very happy to be part of the solution.