Tuesday news: EV-charging charges, grid-balancing, integrated transport, alt-fuels, etc…

February 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

vw eup5We’re looking at an end to free EV parking in central London: Source London is planning to introduce charges for using its charger-equipped bays, reports Autocar (alongside fixing the broken/inoperable chargers). There’ll be a sliding scale of tariffs (tbc), based on zones 1-6. Initial thought: that’s one big incentive to go electric gone. Second thought: this stops an incentive to drive into central London rather than take other forms of transport. This echoes thinking on a similar line southwards in Brighton at the weekend: nice to see a Volkswagen e-up! charging (as pictured) at the well-used bays at Bartholemew Square (first one I’ve spotted there), but on balance, I’d argue for the Lanes area being a car-free zone anyway. Driving into the very heart of heavily-congested city centres isn’t the best deployment of EVs…

  • News with strong implications for energy storage-electromobility synergies: San Diego Gas & Electric is running a pilot vehicle-to-grid project and pitching EV fleets and storage systems as one integrated resource into local wholesale energy markets. This demand response and grid-balancing programme is currently aggregating stationary storage with fleets at five locations in San Diego County, and incentivises users to charge off-peak. The project is further studying the benefits both at customer and grid levels, and identifying barriers as well as best practices and growth opportunities for future roll-out on a larger scale. More here.
  • And talking of integration: the NW Bicester ‘eco-town’ development (Oxfordshire) is to have an electric car club and communal charging points, as well as the option of EV-charging equipment fitted at the new homes. A fleet of subsidized EVs is also to be available for ‘champions’ who will share their experiences, and there will be test-drive events in the community. And alongside this, bike lanes and pedestrian routes linking the development to the town, and cycle storage for each house. Sensible measures to contain the impact of suburban sprawl? More here.
  • Nice accessible runthrough of how tech can transform commuting from the BBC: from apps to integrate multi-modal options, digital mapping and use of social media to bike-shares and wireless e-bus charging (I’ll pass on the jet packs, though), it does make the point that the actual modes of transport will probably change less than the means of accessing/paying. It also quotes Prof Carlo Ratti from MIT on car-sharing and ride-sharing – “we predict that, in future, four out of five cars can be removed from the road” – and on autonomous/self-driving cars, which “promise to have a dramatic impact on urban life, because they will blur the distinction between private and public modes of transportation”. Note that this is, however, specific to the urban environment – and that in this brave new world, there are still cars, even if they are shared and in fewer numbers.
  • But yes, more walking and cycling (and bike-sharing) are necessary if future cities aren’t to grind to a halt: a new report from the OECD, The Metropolitan Century, also calls for revised land-use regulation and taxation/fees to discourage private car use, as well as traffic and parking controls.
  • Ricardo has developed a next-gen 85kW electric motor for vehicles which needs no rare earth metals – and is thus cheaper to make. More on the RapidSR project here.
  • An alt-fuels workshop report from the US DoE: markets/applications for natural gas (trucks, vans, heavy-duty) and hydrogen (personal transport) will naturally segment, with only a little overlap in some areas (buses, light-duty commercial vehicles). However, economies of scale could be achieved by co-location of refuelling facilities and other supply chain infrastructure, as well as common standard-setting for storage equipment, etc; new business models and partnerships will emerge, with the potential to move away from centralised fuel production. More here. And analysis of the benefits of natural gas for trucking – but its mixed environmental effects – in a study reported here.
  • The above important because biofuels not necessarily the answer – and the EU has just voted to phase out ‘first-generation’ (land-based, crop-grown) biofuels from 2020, with a 6% ‘cap’ on their blending into petrol and diesel. This addresses the issue of biofuel from food-source crops, but also land use where other inedible crops are grown for energy rather than food, says think-tank Transport & Environment; criteria for fuels made from wastes and residues have also been tightened up.

 

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