The negotiations taking place in Copenhagen will lead to the growing use of low carbon vehicles, powered by electricity or biofuels. At the meeting, the UK Met Office announced that the last 10 years have been “by far” the warmest decade the world has experienced since records began. They said that emissions would have to peak within the next 8 to 10 years if we are to avoid the global temperature rising by more than 2C. President Obama’s negotiating position at the talks will be strengthened, as the US Government has classified carbon dioxide as a toxic gas that endangers public health. This is a prerequisite for strong new emissions standards for cars and trucks.
Green MotorSport and our partners have been working for the past decade to develop low carbon vehicles, together with the innovative energy technologies which will power them. Up till now we have had plentiful supplies of cheap fossil fuels which have very high energy density and have enabled us to travel wherever we want, with little consideration for the energy we are using or its impact on the world around us.
Green MotorSport first designed vehicles ‘from the ground up’, in order to strike the best balance between vehicle weight and performance. Vehicles made from composite materials are lighter than steel and have the advantage that they can be efficiently manufactured in smaller quantities. Green MotorSport replaces the engine, gearbox and exhaust system and other heavy equipment in a standard internal combustion engine car with their lightweight Dual Drive. The aim is to get a fully loaded weight of less than 1000 kgs, or even better, below 700 kgs.
In niche markets, like that for the second family car or local delivery vehicle, cheaper batteries will suffice. For long distance driving, more expensive high energy density batteries may be required. For drivers who only travel long distances occasionally, fast charging can provide the necessary extended range. Whichever batteries you choose to meet your particular needs, the high efficiency of GMS motors and control systems will ensure the best performance and greatest range per charge. GMS motors are highly efficient and put more energy back into the batteries than conventional systems, in the process known as ‘regenerative braking.’
Powered by renewable energy
It is essential that electric vehicles are powered by renewable energy. Transport and Environment points out that EU legislation to limit C02 emissions will give super credits for EVs, which will allow carmakers to sell three high emission vehicles for every EV they sell. If the EVs are powered from the grid, it could mean more, not less, C02 emissions from European cars!
The cost of solar panels can be dramatically reduced if they are incorporated in new buildings or in community scale refurbishments. While governments have focussed on huge wind farms, more support is needed for the development of micro wind energy collectors, which could function in the varying wind speeds and directions experienced at lower levels on people’s rooftops. There is also tremendous potential for local energy from waste, as well as low head hydro.
The more electricity is generated on site by communities, businesses and individuals, the less recharging spots will have to be installed for electric vehicles in public places. Electric vehicles could also help to balance the load if they are recharged at off peak times. The National Grid estimates that the average electric vehicle would only use half its capacity each day. They envisage that when smart meters are introduced in people’s homes, electric vehicles could supply the grid with electricity at the time of peak demand when drivers return home in the early evening. The batteries could then be fully recharged overnight.
Building the recharging infrastructure
Regional Development Agency One North East has just installed two charging posts in its head office car park in Newcastle and is currently awaiting delivery of a further 29 posts, which will be installed by Newcastle Council. This pilot is the first phase of a comprehensive charging infrastructure across North East England, which is becoming established as a world-leading location for the development and demonstration of electric vehicles and contains the UK’s first Low Carbon Economic Area for Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles. Transport Secretary, Andrew Adonis, launched the project, in company with Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of One North East and John Shipley, leader of Newcastle City Council.
In the coming months the infrastructure will be used for major vehicle trials by CENEX, the UK’s low carbon vehicle centre of excellence; the Department for Transport’s Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme, and the Technology Strategy Board’s Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator project. These will involve electric commercial and passenger vehicles including the Nissan Leaf and Smith Electric Vehicles’ new people carriers, executive minibus and taxis. This Advanced Pilot will be the first stage of the installation of 750 charging points across the region in the coming two years, with vehicle trials scheduled to move to the Tees Valley in 2010. This programme is boosted by the One North East-led collaboration of major private-sector companies including Tesco, British Gas, CE Electric, the AA and Capital Shopping Centres, which are providing locations for charging points, along with technical advice and promotional work. In addition to this infrastructure work, the Energy Technologies Institute last month announced a research project for recharging electric vehicles, which will be working with nine ‘Joined Cities', including Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough.
Andrew Adonis has since invited cities and businesses to apply for £30m funding to encourage the provision of thousands of recharging points for electric and plug-in hybrid cars on streets, in car parks and other easily accessible places. In London, Sainsburys has announced that it has introduced free electric car recharging points at 11 stores across the city. Toyota will anchor its solar powered charging stations to telephone poles. The charging stations will generate 100 to 200 volts of electricity which will be stored in batteries. It is planned that the stations will be able to communicate their status to a central computer and authenticate users’ credentials, potentially enabling a model where customers pay for membership to the recharging network.
Home energy generation
The introduction of tax breaks for domestic micro-generation in the UK’s Pre-Budget Report was welcomed by Good Energy, which has been supporting green home owners for the past five years. “Creating a nation of green energy entrepreneurs will play a key role in achieving our national emissions reduction targets” said Juliet Davenport, Founder and Chief Executive. “We also welcome the support for company electric vehicles, but would like the government to ensure that the electricity used to power these will be zero carbon from 100% renewable sources” she added.
In London’s Trafalgar Square, a full size model of a polar bear sculpted in ice will be on display from Friday 11th December. This will slowly melt during the final week of the Copenhagen discussions.