Wireless power transfer tech: Trials set for England’s offroads

Aug 16, 2015

Scott Meltzer/public domain

By Nancy Owano

Wireless charging technology that is built into the road, powering electric cars as they move, is to undergo trials on England’s offroads. Announced on Tuesday, the technology will address the need to power up electric and hybrid vehicles on England’s roads. The trials will get under way later this year.

Key questions that the trial will address: will the technology work safely and effectively? How will the tech allow drivers of ultra-low emission vehicles to travel longer distances without needing to stop and charge the car’s battery? The announcement referred to “dynamic ” technologies where cars are recharged while on the move.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said that the government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology. The trials will involve fitting vehicles with and testing the equipment, installed underneath the road, to replicate motorway conditions.


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53 comments on “Wireless power transfer tech: Trials set for England’s offroads

  • @OP link – TRL made the point at that time that “the purpose of the project is not to find an alternative to current plug-in charging infrastructure but rather to develop a comprehensive charging eco-system capable of delivering power to EVs via different methods.”

    TRL added, “This is to facilitate greater and more flexible use of EVs in the UK, overcome range anxiety and allow switching to zero emission vehicles for vehicle types which have traditionally been accepted as not suitable for electrification, e.g. HGVs and coaches.”

    This could have huge potential for expanding the use of low carbon vehicles, and for getting rid of exhaust pollution in the air of cities.

    Urban bus services and delivery vehicles could run without exhaust emissions.
    There could be even greater potential, if super capacitor storage of electricity replaces the heavier and more polluting production of batteries.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capa_vehicle

    A capacitor vehicle or capa vehicle is a traction vehicle that uses supercapacitors (also called ultracapacitors) to store electricity.[1]

    As of 2010, the best ultracapacitors can only store about 5% of the energy that lithium-ion rechargeable batteries can, limiting them to a couple of miles per charge. This makes them ineffective as a general energy storage medium for passenger vehicles. But ultracapacitors can charge much faster than batteries, so in vehicles such as buses that have to stop frequently at known points where charging facilities can be provided, energy storage based exclusively on ultracapacitors becomes viable

    China is experimenting with a new form of electric bus, known as Capabus, which runs without continuous overhead lines (is an autonomous vehicle) by using power stored in large onboard electric double-layer capacitors (EDLCs), which are quickly recharged whenever the vehicle stops at any bus stop (under so-called electric umbrellas), and fully charged in the terminus.

    A few prototypes were being tested in Shanghai in early 2005. In 2006 two commercial bus routes began to use electric double-layer capacitor buses; one of them is route 11 in Shanghai.[3] In 2009 Sinautec Automobile Technologies,[4] based in Arlington, Virginia, and its Chinese partner Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Company[5] are testing, with 17 forty-one seat Ultracap Buses serving the Greater Shanghai area since 2006 without any major technical problems

    These use charging stations at bus stops, rather than wireless systems at present, but wireless charging on the move would be an improvement.



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  • BTW – I am very doubtful about the suitability of the picture accompanying this article!

    Wireless power transfer tech: Trials set for England’s offroads.

    Traffic in England drives on the LEFT, with slip-roads usually leaving dual carriageways on the left!



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  • The alternative way of doing this is recharging only when the vehicles are stopped. You would not need to disrupt the entire road beds to install. It seems to me charging by induction has the problem of inducing currents in the passengers. If you had a conduction connection, you would not have that problem.



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  • Roedy, isn’t the point to use the motion of the cars to generate the electricity rather than using more energy to charge cars by other means of production? maybe I got it wrong?



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  • Olgun
    Aug 17, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Roedy, isn’t the point to use the motion of the cars to generate the electricity rather than using more energy to charge cars by other means of production? maybe I got it wrong?

    Some electric vehicles use regenerative braking to charge batteries, but a total charging system without an external power input, would be an impossible “perpetual motion machine”!



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  • I understand there will be the energising of the static parts in the road but understood/misunderstood (?) that the movement of the cars would save some energy. More efficient not perpetual.



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  • Roedy
    Aug 17, 2015 at 10:31 am

    It seems to me charging by induction has the problem of inducing currents in the passengers. If you had a conduction connection, you would not have that problem.

    If they were moving through strong magnetic fields, or the magnetic fields were moving or fluctuating, there would be medical safety issues.

    http://www.willis.com/documents/publications/Services/Claims_Management/MRI_Safety_August_2009_V6.pdf

    A l l p a c e m a k e r s a n d i m p l a n t a b l e
    c a r d i o v e r t e r / d e f i b r i l l a t o r s s h o u l d b e
    c o n s i d e r e d c o n t r a i n d i c a t e d u n d e r
    a n y c i r c u m s t a n c e .
    W h e n t h e s e d e v i c e s a r e e x p o s e d t o a n M R I
    e n v i r o n m e n t , a l i f e t h r e a t e n i n g c o n d i t i o n
    m a y b e c r e a t e d w i t h i n t h e f i v e g a u s s l i n e .
    I n t r a v a s c u l a r c a t h e t e r s , i n t u b a t i o n e q u i p m e n t ,
    i n f u s i o n p u m p s , o r t h o p e d i c i m p l a n t s ,
    s t e n t s a n d o t h e r d e v i c e s s h o u l d
    b e v e r i f i e d a s M R I s a f e i n t h e p r e s c r e e n i n g .

    T h e t r a n s p o r t a t i o n o f a p a t i e n t
    s h o u l d b e d e s i g n e d t o m i n i m i z e
    p o t e n t i a l t o r q u e f r o m s e c o n d a r y
    m a g n e t i c f i e l d s b y m a i n t a i n i n g a
    p a r a l l e l p a t h t o t h e l i n e s o f f o r c e .
    A n y M R I s a f e d e v i c e m u s t b e v e r i f i e d a s
    a c c e p t a b l e f o r t h e M R I t e s l a r a t e d
    m a c h i n e a n d m a x i m u m c l o s e s t s a f e
    d i s t a n c e f r o m t h e m a c h i n e .



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  • Olgun
    Aug 17, 2015 at 11:53 am

    I understand there will be the energising of the static parts in the road but understood/misunderstood (?) that the movement of the cars would save some energy. More efficient not perpetual.

    Moving vehicles is going to use energy to overcome friction, whatever system is utilised. There may be some energy reclaimed from their momentum where regenerative braking is employed.



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  • To be sure, range anxiety has been one of the talked about factors challenging future uptake of EVs. Brian Milligan said in BBC News earlier this year, though, that figures from the UK car industry suggested “we might finally be waking up to the electric revolution.” He noted a jump in purchases of plug-in hybrids and that there were many more plug-in models to chose from; he also noted a network of charging points had expanded, in places in the UK where drivers can plug in.

    The article contains a lot of misleading hype about all-electric vehicles (EVs). (Hybrids and plug-in hybrids may still be classified as internal combustion motor vehicles). Range anxiety certainly presents significant challenges to the sale of EVs. The effective barrier remains the exorbitant purchase price of the vehicle itself compared with the price points for new petrol or diesel powered cars. The average bloke just can’t afford the high end “luxury car” price for a small vehicle that comes with so much nuisance.

    If concerns focus on social and environmental costs, wouldn’t it be more efficient to build more electric-powered mass transit rather than having everyone get around strapped to his or her own humongous battery?



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  • Melvin
    Aug 20, 2015 at 12:31 am

    If concerns focus on social and environmental costs, wouldn’t it be more efficient to build more electric-powered mass transit rather than having everyone get around strapped to his or her own humongous battery?

    It would certainly make sense to put more emphasis on public transport systems, but there is no reason why private electric transport should also operate alongside.

    having everyone get around strapped to his or her own humongous battery?

    Super capacitors, an abundance of charging points, and other technical innovations should reduce this problem.



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  • EV sales are initially at the high end, just as were private cars in their early years– http://www.teslamotors.com/en_GB/models
    Model S is a premium performance saloon with dual motor all wheel drive and 310 miles of range.

    Tesla plans a consumer-level car at $35,000 in next 2 years. The Nissan Leaf is a practical city car at
    a reasonable price- taking account of Total Cost of Ownership [TCO], minimal maintenance, low ‘fuel’
    cost, etc.

    Doubtless if in-road power supply proves practical then EV designers will add it to existing models…
    All this revolutionary change takes time for public acceptance but is inevitable. The ICE is dying but
    won’t go fully extinct.



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  • Doubtless if in-road power supply proves practical then EV designers will add it to existing models…
    All this revolutionary change takes time for public acceptance but is inevitable. The ICE is dying but
    won’t go fully extinct.

    In-road power supply implemented on major roads, and effectively on all roads, would require a prohibitively expensive and disruptive project requiring the closure and excavation of all roadways to change out the existing infrastructure. The bill for industrialized nations would come in at trillions of dollars so that EV owners could charge batteries from the asphalt-concrete they are driving over.

    EV sales hit a ceiling because of unaffordable or non-competitive price points. The Tesla Model S is an $80,000 vehicle for the very rich. The Nissan Leaf is a $30,000 sub-compact with a 38 mile all-electric range. If Tesla can introduce a $35,000 “consumer-level” car, the car buyer must still come up with $30,000 to $40,000 (cash or financed) for the purchase. Consumers will either be constrained by budget, opting for new ICE compacts in the $15,000 to $18,000 range or opt for used ICE cars at much lower prices.

    Developing smaller, lighter more efficient battery packs at affordable prices competitive with diesel or petrol combustion engines seems the only viable path for EVs and plug-in hybrids to capture a significant and growing share of the auto market.

    If chemical pollution and carbon dioxide emission reductions are the goal, then measures of these factors in the production, operation, maintenance and disposal of batter-powered cars must also be taken into account.



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  • I’ll add my two cents to speculate on a possible use of the word “offroad[s].” It may designate what we call a “limited access road” that usually connects to a public street or motorway typically serving rural areas such as farmlands or remote natural lands. Usually closed to public traffic, limited access roads are reserved for service and otherwise authorized vehicles. Entrances may be gated with “no entry” signs. Sections of lightly traveled “frontage roads” adjacent to motorways or rough coastlines might also be considered “offroads” suitable for temporary closure. I conjecture that the researchers will probably use paved level roads of this kind for the experiment.



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  • In Oslo recently, I saw whole streets with electric cars plugged into poles on the side of the road. Asked a local. Parking is free for electric cars and the charging is free, powered by renewables. I took photos I was so impressed. It’s a pity we don’t have a Load Photograph facility. Suggestion for the Web Techs??

    This is what the future will / should look like.



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  • Melvin. Have a look at this. The World Solar Challenge. I would like to see the electric car manufacturers incorporate the technology developed to power these beautiful machines.

    By 2005, several teams were handicapped by the South Australian speed limit of 110 km/h (68 mph), as well as the difficulties of support crews keeping up with 130 km/h (81 mph) race vehicles. It was generally agreed that the challenge of building a solar vehicle capable of crossing Australia at vehicular speeds had been met and exceeded. A new challenge was set: to build a new generation of solar car, which, with little modification, could be the basis for a practical proposition for sustainable transport.



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  • Seriously, David, I think you’re onto something. Solar will almost surely become the dominant energy source supplying power to humankind while decarbonizing the atmosphere in the 21st century. Thanks.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

    Seriously, David, I think you’re onto something. Solar will almost surely become the dominant energy source supplying power to humankind while decarbonizing the atmosphere in the 21st century.

    If should be in sunny climates like Australia and California, but it’s horses for courses elsewhere.

    David R Allen
    Aug 20, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    In Oslo recently, I saw whole streets with electric cars plugged into poles on the side of the road.

    I suspect these were supplied by hydroelectric power.



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  • This was in the British press a few weeks ago. What it boils down to is the Department for Transport (also known as the Department for Wasting Money On A Vast Scale Whilst Achieving Nothing Useful) playing around with horrendously expensive technology to look cool. The cost was reported as something around £17m a kilometer to install, before motorists see their vehicle costs double just to access the scheme, and means disruption on a scale never previously experienced before a simpler technology provides a cheaper answer and the whole thing becomes obsolete. It will never become sufficiently widespread to avoid the need for conventional power units but will cost everyone a packet before anyone catches and stops it. And this is from a government preaching ‘austerity’ . . .



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  • There is some further information on a string of further links, but I cannot find details about charging on the move. Most of the information is about inductive charging from coil-pads in the road, as an alternative to plug-in systems.

    http://phys.org/news/2010-11-electric-cars-wirelessly-london-video.html
    According to Tech-On, the frequency range used for power transmission is 20k-140kHz. The power to be transmitted is 3kW for single phase, 7kW for three phases and 18kW or higher in the case of rapid charging. A home could be set up with the single phase 3kW IPT for charging a car overnight.

    Wireless recharging points will be rolled out across London this year to put the charging system to the test. The testing is supported by Transport for London and Mayor Boris Johnson. The Mayor has showed strong support in promoting EVs. In 2009 he pledged that every Londoner will be no more than one mile from an electric car charge point by 2015. http://phys.org/news/2012-01-qualcomm-haloipt-tech-wireless-evs.html

    The trials are expected to begin later this year following the completion of an ongoing procurement process. The trials will involve fitting vehicles with wireless technology and testing the equipment, installed underneath the road, to replicate motorway conditions. Full details of the trials will be publicised when a successful contractor has been appointed.

    The trials are expected to last for approximately 18 months and, subject to the results, could be followed by on road trials.

    As well as investigating the potential to install technology to wirelessly power ultra-low efficient vehicles, Highways England is also committed in the longer-term to installing plug-in charging points every 20 miles on the motorway network as part of the government’s Road Investment Strategy. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/off-road-trials-for-electric-highways-technology



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  • Kay
    Aug 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    It will never become sufficiently widespread to avoid the need for conventional power units but will cost everyone a packet before anyone catches and stops it.

    Conventional power-units using fossil fuels are going to cost us a whole planet if humanity does not get a grip on CO2 emissions.
    While there are innovative possibilities using biofuels and solar generated recycling hydrocarbon fuels for use in internal combustion engines, electric vehicles of one sort or another, have to be a large part of future transport systems. Inductive charging while stopped looks promising.
    The details of feasibility of charging on the move, I have yet to see.

    This was in the British press a few weeks ago.

    I would be cautious about taking any popular press comment on innovative science seriously! They are noted for sensationalism and scientific illiteracy!



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  • Just been on the Docklands Light Rial for the first time. Had to get on the faster Underground Tube to get to Stratford and the Light Rail from there to the Isle of dogs. If this system was extended, I would get rid of my car in an instant. The two tier system with more stops on the slower Light Rail was a great experience and very convenient. Safer than trams I think.



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  • From Wikipedia: The country [Norway] has a very high standard of living compared with other European countries, and a strongly integrated welfare system. Norway’s modern manufacturing and welfare system rely on a financial reserve produced by exploitation of natural resources, particularly North Sea oil.

    All those Norwegian cowboys we talk about tying their “hosses” to the electric hitching post, probably purchased their EVs with money that came from North Sea oil. Our best intentions to save the planet still suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous irony.

    I wholeheartedly agree with KAY. I’ll put my tax dollars behind environmental projects with a reasonable chance to make a difference for the benefit of the people. Propaganda boondoggles that deplete the treasury to build the infamous “bridge to nowhere” should be shelved not only for the sake of environmental projects that show results but also for bolstering public confidence and support for those projects.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    From Wikipedia: The country [Norway] has a very high standard of living compared with other European countries, and a strongly integrated welfare system. Norway’s modern manufacturing and welfare system rely on a financial reserve produced by exploitation of natural resources, particularly North Sea oil.

    All those Norwegian cowboys we talk about tying their “hosses” to the electric hitching post, probably purchased their EVs with money that came from North Sea oil. Our best intentions to save the planet still suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous irony.

    Noway has profited from North Sea oil, but unlike some countries, they are making considerable efforts to move over to using and exporting clean energy.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-10-13/norway-authorizes-construction-of-longest-undersea-power-cable

    Norway authorized the construction of the world’s longest undersea power cable, connecting the nation to the U.K., and a link to Germany.

    Licenses were awarded to Statnett SF, the operator of Norway’s electricity grid, the nation’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said today on its website. The cable to the U.K. will be about 740 kilometers (460 miles) long, British network operator National Grid Plc said in a statement. Each link will have a capacity of 1,400 megawatts, enabling exports of more than 12 terawatt-hours of power a year.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with KAY. I’ll put my tax dollars behind environmental projects with a reasonable chance to make a difference for the benefit of the people. Propaganda boondoggles that deplete the treasury to build the infamous “bridge to nowhere” should be shelved not only for the sake of environmental projects that show results but also for bolstering public confidence and support for those projects.

    I see you are using the “technical language” of the comical media scientific illiterates!

    Did you have some evidence that there is a financial or technical problem with putting induction coils in roads for charging electric vehicles as an alternative to plug-in systems?



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  • “I see you are using the “technical language” of the comical media scientific illiterates!” And Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi replied, “but what then of the dancing elephant?”…. I don’t see how this language advances the discussion.

    Did you have some evidence that there is a financial or technical problem with putting induction coils in roads for charging electric vehicles as an alternative to plug-in systems?

    I am not a technical person, but I think we can get at a commonsense answer by asking your question somewhat in reverse: Is there an alternative to putting induction coils in roads for charging electric vehicles….Yeh, PLUGS.



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  • Olgun
    Aug 21, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Just been on the Docklands Light Rial for the first time. Had to get on the faster Underground Tube to get to Stratford and the Light Rail from there to the Isle of dogs. If this system was extended, I would get rid of my car in an instant.

    I found that at some English airports, and in New York JFK , it was convenient to arrive using an electric rail system, rather than using a car and having large parking charges for leaving it at the airport while away.
    I think the Docklands light railway was one of the early driverless systems. – Signs of things to come!



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  • Melvin
    Aug 22, 2015 at 12:11 am

    I see you are using the “technical language” of the comical media scientific illiterates!”

    And Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi replied, “but what then of the dancing elephant?”…. I don’t see how this language advances the discussion.

    That was the point I was making! Meaningless gibberish doesn’t!

    Did you have some evidence that there is a financial or technical problem with putting induction coils in roads for charging electric vehicles as an alternative to plug-in systems?

    I am not a technical person, but I think we can get at a commonsense answer by asking your question somewhat in reverse: Is there an alternative to putting induction coils in roads for charging electric vehicles….Yeh, PLUGS.

    So does this “common sense” without technical understanding or project costing, present evidenced comparisons of convenience and efficiency of use and costs, of induction versus plug-ins, on which a rational judgement can be made?

    As I understand the articles, they are suggesting putting inductive charging units under parking bays and bus-stops, with possible charging sections to boost moving vehicles on motorways, every 20 miles or so.

    I also suspect that the journalists with a boondoggle understanding of engineering, probably don’t know that inductive electrical transmission, operates in every transformer on the national grid system!



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  • Melvin
    Aug 22, 2015 at 12:11 am

    I am not a technical person, but I think we can get at a commonsense answer by asking your question somewhat in reverse: Is there an alternative to putting induction coils in roads for charging electric vehicles….Yeh, PLUGS.

    I think this sort of non-technical “common sense” spaghetti of wires and plugs, was applied to computer systems, networks, sound-systems and printers, before the introduction of routers and wi-fi!



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  • So does this “common sense” without technical understanding or project costing, present evidenced comparisons of convenience and efficiency of use and costs, of induction versus plug-ins, on which a rational judgement can be made?

    From Wikipedia: A study by Element Energy commissioned by BP and published in September 2013, concluded that the use of advanced biofuels in the UK, and particularly E20 cellulosic ethanol, is a more cost-effective way of reducing emissions than using plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in the timeframe to 2030. The study also found that the use of higher blends of biofuels is complementary to hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) can deliver strong CO2 savings with a decarbonised electric grid, but are expected to have significantly higher costs than internal combustion engine vehicles and hybrid cars to 2030, as the latter are expected to be the most popular models by 2030. According to the study, blending biofuels in fuels is a cheaper way to reduce emissions than using BEVs in the timeframe to 2030

    Critics will credibly cite bias in these findings from a study commissioned by British Petroleum. But bias is a vector of all studies. Plug-in Hybrid and EV sales have grown impressively since Toyota introduced the Prius in 1999. In cumulative sales, Japan leads, followed by the United States, with the United Kingdom a distant third, then France and Germany trailing with even weaker sales than the UK..

    The overall picture suggests that the premium cost of the vehicles, after showing a sale surge from a zero base, will not remain competitive with ICE car production pouring tens of millions new and used vehicles on the road every year. Figures for the all-electric (EV), though registering impressive growth from a recent zero- base year, represent an insignificant share of the auto market both now and for the foreseeable future.

    Herein lies the technical, financial and political evidence for public resistance to pursuing projects for installing in-road induction systems for recharging plug-in hybrids and EVs. Expensive infrastructure changes must be financed with public tax dollars to serve a minority elite of battery-car owners. Taxpayers have already subsidized a significant part of the sales “growth” through government subsidies for hybrid -EV purchases. Questions of equity will fuel controversy when the average Joseph and Mary are asked to pay for exorbitant, disruptive public projects that serve the interests of a minority who can afford the high-end prices for these vehicles.

    Technological improvements in battery packs, installing ubiquitous quick-charge stations (plugs!), or developing alternatives to battery-powered vehicles, could render putting induction coils in roads obsolete and wasteful 5, 10, 20 years down the road (pun intended). If significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants are claimed to justify costs, the odds seem less than favorable for achieving such outcomes relying on disproportionate public expenditures committed to such a piecemeal dubious project.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 22, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    From Wikipedia: A study by Element Energy commissioned by BP and published in September 2013, concluded that the use of advanced biofuels in the UK, and particularly E20 cellulosic ethanol, is a more cost-effective way of reducing emissions than using plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in the timeframe to 2030.

    As you point out, bias in information from oil companies promoting their products over clean electric systems is very likely – given their past record of funding disinformation on climate issues.

    Herein lies the technical, financial and political evidence for public resistance to pursuing projects for installing in-road induction systems for recharging plug-in hybrids and EVs. Expensive infrastructure changes must be financed with public tax dollars to serve a minority elite of battery-car owners.

    You have asserted, but not presented, any evidence of public resistance to recharging systems (media drivel and oil company propaganda, is not evidence). Nor have you presented any evidence or even an explanation, as to why you think an induction system under a parking bay, would be more expensive, less convenient, or less efficient, than a kerbside charging point. There is no reason why, in the long term, electric charging systems should not pay for themselves in the same way other fuelling systems do. We already pay for household electricity.

    Technological improvements in battery packs, installing ubiquitous quick-charge stations (plugs!), or developing alternatives to battery-powered vehicles, could render putting induction coils in roads obsolete and wasteful 5, 10, 20 years down the road (pun intended).

    I think you just made that up based on personal incredulity.
    The evidence I have seen would indicate the opposite. – Namely that inductive charging would be quicker, more efficient, more secure, and more convenient, than clumsy plug-in systems, which involve parking up and connecting cables to the vehicle from raised pillars placed at the roadside.

    If significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants are claimed to justify costs, the odds seem less than favorable for achieving such outcomes relying on disproportionate public expenditures committed to such a piecemeal dubious project.

    Again you offer no credible source for this claim.
    You could just as well make an equally dubious claim, that putting gas pipes, water mains , telephone, and electricity cables, under roads, will create “disproportionate public expenditures committed to such piecemeal dubious projects”.



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  • You forget the political dependency factor. Electricity can be produced at source through other means than fossile fuels giving governments less dependency on the likes of Russia, a great problem at the moment. Germany, for one, is investing in producing models that work in this area. It is not just a case of environment that drives this.



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  • I believe we’ve lost touch with what the article is talking about.

    Nor have you presented any evidence or even an explanation, as to why you think an induction system under a parking bay, would be more expensive, less convenient, or less efficient, than a kerbside charging point.

    I presume the experiment is about testing technology to charge electric vehicles on the move at speed over roadways; not about charging at stationary parking spaces.

    How will the tech allow drivers of ultra-low emission vehicles to travel longer distances without needing to stop and charge the car’s battery? The announcement referred to “dynamic wireless power transfer” technologies where cars are recharged while on the move.

    Presumably implementing such a system on the scale of a nation’s roadways would necessitate tearing up thousands, tens of thousands of miles of roads to implant the charging devices under moving traffic. Road closures and billions of dollars would have to be spent just to get the project off the ground (or under the ground). Demanding precise figures for a project which will incur massive cost overruns in the United Kingdom where the current minuscule role of the electric car in reducing carbon dioxide emissions cannot yet be extrapolated out to 2030 is not reasonable. Because of the factors described in previous comments, I believe that an ongoing cost-benefit analysis will probably limit the “experiment” to a handful of pilot projects while allocating public funds to other carbon-neutral energy technologies that demonstrably prove more cost-effective on an economy of scale.

    Whether right or wrong about the future, the question is not about optimism or pessimism for any project that can be undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The question is about targeting precious finite resources to those projects that work the best.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 23, 2015 at 3:27 am

    I believe we’ve lost touch with what the article is talking about.

    Nor have you presented any evidence or even an explanation, as to why you think an induction system under a parking bay, would be more expensive, less convenient, or less efficient, than a kerbside charging point.

    I presume the experiment is about testing technology to charge electric vehicles on the move at speed over roadways; not about charging at stationary parking spaces.

    I think it is about both. It suggests that vehicles start from a charged condition when leaving parking bays, loading bays, driveways, or garages, and can be boosted when parked in towns, or when on the move if covering longer journeys.

    Presumably implementing such a system on the scale of a nation’s roadways would necessitate tearing up thousands, tens of thousands of miles of roads to implant the charging devices under moving traffic.

    I think it will involve only sections of road, and be installed systematically over a period of years if the tests prove successful. On long distance routes, it seemed to be suggesting charging sections about every 20 miles.

    Road closures and billions of dollars would have to be spent just to get the project off the ground

    You keep making these wild claims wherever capital investment is involved, as if invested capital does not produce any return for the community or reduce the need to spend on/invest in, other systems. (such as taking thousands of no longer needed heavy road tankers off the roads.)

    Thousands of sections of roads were dug up to put sensor coils at the approach to traffic lights to make the traffic flow safer and more efficient. Thousands of miles of worn-out surfaces are routinely replaced, and masses of road areas are dug up to repair utilities. To suggest that these routine up-grades cost ridiculous amounts of money for no return is ludicrous.

    Because of the factors described in previous comments, I believe that an ongoing cost-benefit analysis will probably limit the “experiment” to a handful of pilot projects while allocating public funds to other carbon-neutral energy technologies that demonstrably prove more cost-effective on an economy of scale.

    I think your guestimates based on a non-technical understanding of the systems, would be better left until the experimental work has produced actual figures. That is the purpose of publicly funded experiments. It is to identify the effective areas to invest in the future, so as to identify new opportunities and avoid poor choices in operating major infrastructures.
    This looks like a favourable opportunity to operate a nationwide system on major routes and in major towns.



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  • Roedy
    Aug 17, 2015 at 10:31 am

    It seems to me charging by induction has the problem of inducing currents in the passengers.

    I think the place to look for any effects of electric fields on passengers or devices, would be studies related to the Maglev Trains and medical MRI scanners.



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  • Olgun
    Aug 23, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Here is an article . . .

    I think the induction system is likely to be more efficient and reliable than a mechanical one, but comparing these two systems and any others, would be what competent scientists and engineers do!
    It looks like the car manufactures already have a view and a plan to carry out trials.



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  • @OP link – The trials are expected to last for approximately 18 months and, subject to the results, could be followed by on road trials.

    As well as investigating the potential to install technology to wirelessly power ultra-low efficient vehicles, Highways England is also committed in the longer-term to installing plug-in charging points every 20 miles on the motorway network as part of the government’s Road Investment Strategy.

    As can be seen from other links and comments, these are just some of the innovations which could revolutionise electric road transport as a combined mix of systems, while greatly reducing CO2 emissions.



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  • Olgun
    Aug 23, 2015 at 7:37 am

    From a link off that link, I hope the full implications are studied in detail. Is their any direction we can go in that does not pollute in way or another?

    China started its industrial revolution late, so with a boom in largely unregulated capitalism. There has until recently, been little concern for the environment or health issues (As was the case in Europe in the 1800s). Recently the air and other forms of pollution have been recognised as so bad that action is beginning to be taken – Part of this is the about face on CO2 pollution.

    The two recent chemical explosions in populated areas illustrate the problem of the need for proper regulation.

    As for rare earths, China has the biggest reserves on Earth, but they may become available from asteroid mining in the future.



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  • I think your guestimates based on a non-technical understanding of the systems, would be better left until the experimental work has produced actual figures. That is the purpose of publicly funded experiments. It is to identify the effective areas to invest in the future, so as to identify new opportunities and avoid poor choices in operating major infrastructures. This looks like a favourable opportunity to operate a nationwide system on major routes and in major towns.

    We’re both saying the same thing but reaching somewhat different conclusions based on different extrapolations of factors. Apparently one prognostication is contained in the “favourable opportunity” proposition of the highlighted bold -type sentence above. On the other hand, there are reasons to believe that the electric car in its current phase of development is not a cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions.

    Limited range and charging times pose adverse concerns for consumers. But the initial cost of the vehicle, at best non-competitive and at worst fatally exorbitant, in the marketplace keep annual sales mired in the thousands, well under 1% of new car registrations, even with vigorous but exhaustible government subsidies.

    It is not fiscally possible for the government to “buy” a shiny new electric car for everyone so it winds up subsidizing the relatively well-to-do and electric car manufacturers at taxpayer expense. Public funding or subsidies for electric car purchases, charging stations and other infrastructure changes are warranted now on a cautious limited scale. But programs must be carefully monitored to prevent bureaucratic interests from overspending on promotions that yield poor value on public-private investment, generating irrational-exhuberance in the financial sector that could fuel economic bubbles.

    I believe that the electric car must (and over time probably will) prove itself in a competitive marketplace of supply and demand. Improvements in battery technology and cost-cutting must come online to make vehicles accessible to the vast majority, the 99% of the car buying public. Pouring billions into ancillary infrastructure projects to compensate for current inadequacies of battery-powered cars runs a high risk of ineffective waste. As technological, cost-cutting improvements begin to address these inadequacies inherent in first-generation electric cars, the expensive infrastructure innovations currently being tested in pilot programs may rapidly become obsolete.

    As you say, “[Wait] until the experimental work has produced actual figures.”



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  • Melvin
    Aug 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    On the other hand, there are reasons to believe that the electric car in its current phase of development is not a cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions.

    The prime reason why carbon fuels are cheaper in some places, is because governments subsidise oil drilling and make no charge on the producers or consumers for the cost of the damage caused by the pollution.
    Even so electric fuelling is usually cheaper.

    Limited range and charging times pose adverse concerns for consumers.

    These issues will disappear as more charging stations are provided for an expanding market. Most private users drive mainly short journeys, so for the majority of journeys a limited range is of no consequence.

    But the initial cost of the vehicle, at best non-competitive and at worst fatally exorbitant, in the marketplace keep annual sales mired in the thousands, well under 1% of new car registrations, even with vigorous but exhaustible government subsidies.

    The higher initial purchase price is offset by lower fuel costs.
    Realistic charging for the costs of pollution would redress this balance.
    In places like London it does.

    Transport for London – The Congestion Charge is an £11.50 daily charge for driving a vehicle within the charging zone between 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday.

    https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/electric-vehicles

    If you currently drive a petrol or diesel vehicle, you could save money and cut pollutants by switching to electric.

    In London around 90% of all car trips are less than 10km, meaning that almost all average day-to-day travelling can be easily accomplished with an EV.

    A ‘pure EV’ (also known as a Battery EV or BEV) runs solely on the battery. Typically, this type of EV has a range of 80-100km on a full battery, and recent models have up to 160km. *
    Plug-in Hybrid EVs (PHEVs) and Range-Extended EVs (RE-EVs) also have a conventional diesel or petrol engine, meaning they have a longer range than with a battery alone.

    Owners of electric vehicles benefit from much lower fuel costs compared to conventional vehicles.

    .Electric vehicles and PHEVs which meet the criteria are eligible for a 100% discount on the Congestion Charge. Some London boroughs offer free or reduced-charge parking for EVs.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 20, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    EV sales hit a ceiling because of unaffordable or non-competitive price points.

    Nope!

    http://www.nextgreencar.com/electric-cars/statistics/
    The last three years have seen a remarkable surge in demand for electric vehicles in the UK – new registrations of plug-in cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to almost 40,000 by the end of June 2015. There has also been a huge increase in the number of electric and plug-in hybrid models available in the UK with each of the 10 best-selling brands in the UK now offering an EV as part of their model range.



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  • There might be a glitch in the near future Alan as the £5000 grant reaches its 50,000 car limit according to this article.

    I can see the business fleet world carrying on its trend because of company car tax, and council vehicles but not neccessarilly the private world just yet. The private mini cabs seem to use the Prius quite a lot but on quizzing one of the drivers on the way to the airport this year, he said the savings are nowhere near what he was promised in real world terms. A fully electric car, as opposed to the hybrids, will deliver much better savings so, I am all for the new on the road charging, making electric cars viable for the general public in the future but for now the rise in sales, I suspect, is a great sales pitch push to get in on the grant before its all gone.



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  • The last three years have seen a remarkable surge in demand for electric vehicles in the UK – new registrations of plug-in cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to almost 40,000 by the end of June 2015. *There has also been a huge increase in the number of electric and plug-in hybrid models available in the UK with each of the 10 best-selling brands in the UK now offering an EV as part of their model range.

    Statistics that measure sales growth rates for an innovative technology in percentage points starting from a [near] zero base year must be viewed with caution. Extrapolations are dangerous without taking two factors into account: 1) If yearly sales slow and stabilize, then a virtual ceiling is hit where extrapolations, notably claimed for exponential growth at doubling, tripling, etc. rates, no longer apply. 2) If the growth rate for the innovative technology is matched or exceeded by the growth rate of the competing technology then the relative dominance of the latter will not change.

    The equation of weighing the cost-benefit expenditures of implanting vehicle battery chargers in roads, will be impacted by many factors. In order to be cost-effective, a large and growing segment of the motoring public must drive electric cars. 1, 5, even 10% of electric car share will deter the value of the project. The projects must demonstrate steady longitudinal progress at 5, 10, 20 years. Marginal improvements at the 20 year mark or sooner will incur political and fiscal backlash to committing further investment. The near future health of the electric car market will depend partly on the withdrawal of government point-of-sale subsidies and tax credits. When public-sector incentives are scaled back, the market distortion that drives the current “surge” (actually tiny numbers compared to ICE or regular hybrid motor vehicle sales) may disappear or be significantly weakened.

    To be realistic, in-road electric battery charging may prove cost-effective in small affluent, traffic- congested areas like metropolitan London with a huge tax base supplying sufficient financing. Nationwide implementation on an economy of scale, encompassing the major freeways and highways and the huge network of surface streets seems unfeasible for the coming decades.

    ( * The Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi Outlander P-HEV accounted for 66% of UK electric car sales in 2014.
    With the exception of Norway (relying largely on Nissan Leaf sales) – sales of plug-in hybrids and EVs are anemic throughout the European Union including England, Wales, and Scotland. Until costs come down and efficiency goes up, I suspect that electric cars will represent no more than 1% to 2% -perhaps 3% to 4% with optimism- of motor vehicles on European roads.)



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  • Melvin
    Aug 24, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    The equation of weighing the cost-benefit expenditures of implanting vehicle battery chargers in roads, will be impacted by many factors. In order to be cost-effective, a large and growing segment of the motoring public must drive electric cars. 1, 5, even 10% of electric car share will deter the value of the project. The projects must demonstrate steady longitudinal progress at 5, 10, 20 years.

    WE simply cannot go on polluting the planet and even if we could oil reserves are not infinite.

    Marketing claims about prices become nonsense when some previously subsidised polluting cheap options are simply no longer available.

    Marginal improvements at the 20 year mark or sooner will incur political and fiscal backlash to committing further investment. The near future health of the electric car market will depend partly on the withdrawal of government point-of-sale subsidies and tax credits. When public-sector incentives are scaled back, the market distortion that drives the current “surge” (actually tiny numbers compared to ICE or regular hybrid motor vehicle sales) may disappear or be significantly weakened.

    You seem to be ASSUMING there are some (unspecified?) competitive alternatives!
    (A report in Wiki by a combustion specialist company, making speculative projections on behalf of an oil company, is not credible evidence.)



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  • WE simply cannot go on polluting the planet and even if we could oil reserves are not infinite.
    Marketing claims about prices become nonsense when some previously subsidised polluting cheap options are simply no longer available.

    Few would argue the point. Just because we can’t go on polluting the planet [forever] in the transportation sector by burning up finite subsidized oil reserves in ICE engines fueled by petrol and diesel, including conventional hybrids synerigizing power from both battery and petrol motors, doesn’t mean we can’t keep doing it for years and decades into the century. Plug-in hybrids and EVs may well be the wave of the future but for now they continue to be small minority alternatives to ICE vehicles. Current trends strongly suggest that zero emission vehicles will take over the predominate share of the auto-truck market later in the 21st century at least in prosperous mature economies. Evidence for this shift will become apparent as we walk down the street in major cities and see what people are driving in 2015, in 2020, in 2030, etc. In 2015 we’re waiting for Godot in the form of an EV Model as ubiquitous as the Model T was in the twenties and thirties of the American 20th century.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 25, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Few would argue the point.
    Just because we can’t go on polluting the planet [forever] in the transportation sector by burning up finite subsidized oil reserves in ICE engines fueled by petrol and diesel, including conventional hybrids synerigizing power from both battery and petrol motors, doesn’t mean we can’t keep doing it for years and decades into the century.

    There is no natural law which says humans cannot persist with suicidal stupidity, but politically arranging marketing of resources to promote suicidal stupidity, is a very poor long term option.
    Those suffering from the consequences of climate change and pollution, will at some point turn on the polluters, just as the occupants of Chinese cities (and the earlier Bopal residents), are turning on the reckless, incompetent, and corrupt individuals, responsible for the recent disastrous explosions.



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  • There is no natural law which says humans cannot persist with suicidal stupidity, but politically arranging marketing of resources to promote suicidal stupidity, is a very poor long term option.

    Sadly political corruption has enriched corporate enterprises for centuries at the expense of the people. Staying on the topic of transportation, American railroads controlled state legislatures and through them the federal government in the second half of the 19th century, impoverishing farmers and small landowners while restricting trade for the benefit of elite monopolies. Similarly we could open up the corrupt chapters in the history of oil extraction, refinement and distribution subsidies. Though important, that kind of corruption will always be with us because corruption ceaselessly follows Big Money.

    If I may, I would turn attention to a comparison (I shy away from arguments by analogy) between the ambitions for a revolution in the mass adoption of plug-in hybrids or all-electric cars and the revolutionary adoption of Henry Ford’s Model T in the late teens and twenties of the 20th century. Ford, “the father of the assembly line” revolutionized transportation by providing the automobile through mass production, and sales to the masses at affordable prices. Alan has already spelled out the [near] zero emissions advantages, and huge fuel cost savings of driving battery powered cars. The potential for reducing global greenhouse gas release into the atmosphere from road traffic depends on overcoming similar obstacles faced by the market for autos in the early 20th century. Though middle-class and upper middle-class incomes can afford EV purchases, relatively high-pricing combined with other limitations, range anxiety, expensive ($2,000) home chargers, extended charging times for many models, etc. exclude most working class consumers from the market. Not exactly “the rich man’s toy” the sniff test still detects that stigma, especially when prudent reviews recommend that the motorist own a “second” Ice or conventional hybrid vehicle to accommodate circumstances that EVs cannot cope with.

    By way of conclusion, I believe that technological improvements, charging infrastructure and cost-cutting must work in an effective feedback loop over the next five to ten years if consumers are to change out ICE vehicles for plug-in hybrids or EVs. Elon Musk’s company Solar City and others have developed batteries that use solar energy for charging and in turn can charge car batteries ( that also provide household electricity) off the grid. With developments like these moving forward apace, zero-emission EVs could replace most of their petrol-powered counterparts in two or three decades.



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