It looks like they rolled out a Pixar movie, but they are very real: the nine electric vans of the UK’s national mail service that recently hit the London roads. Designed and manufactured by startup car builder Arrival, it is probably the cutest mail van you have ever seen.
Thursday the 23rd of June 2016 will be remembered as a historical day. In a referendum, the Brits voted to leave the European Union –or at least 52% did. For the first time since the six founding members kick-started the European project for economic collaboration and peace building in 1958, a member state leaves the family.
The result sent shock waves through the world. A lot has been said and written and one thing is very clear: the United in United Kingdom is at an all-time low. The impacts of the Brexit on the climate have mainly stayed under the radar. I’ll do my best to present you some food for thought.
The electric vehicle market is still struggling to kick-off. It’s a bit the chicken-and-egg problem. Consumers are held back because of the lack of charging points, companies are not eager to invest in the infrastructure when there is no guarentee it will be used extensively. So that’s the moment governments should help out and that’s exactly what is happening in the UK.
As part of a master plan to get more eletric vehicles (EV’s) on the road, the UK government is investing in a charging network on all major roadways with chargers every 20 miles (32 kilometers). Later this year, a pilot project in wireless charging of electric vehicles will conclude a feasibility study of the technology commissioned by Highways England. If the results are economically viable, the technology will be build out further.
How does this wireless charging work? It’s basically the same technology as used to charge your electric toothbrush or wireless phone charging. Thanks to magnetic induction, an electric current can be induced to charge the vehicle’s batteries when it drives over elektromagnetic plates build into the road. The vehicle can charge its batteries while driving, no need for charging stops anymore. The installation of the elektromagnetic infrastructure is easier than the electrification of a road via overhead cables such as for trams.
The application of induction charging for EV’s is not new. In Gomi in South-Korea for example, two wireless-charged buses ply the train station and Dong-In line. Similar projects exist in Utrecht (the Netherlands) and Torino (Italy). But if the UK decides to build out the technology over its roadway network, we’re talking about a much bigger scale. Exciting times for electric vehicles — and their drivers– ahead!
Header photo by Mark Turnauckas
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, ACEEE, is a non-profit organisation aiming for a more energy efficient (American) economy. They’ve made an international scorecard, a ranking of energy efficiency of 16 large economies including Germany, the UK, China, Mexico, the US etc. Countries can earn a maximum of 100%, by scoring points in 31 metrics across four groups of important energy efficiency aspects: nation-wide energy aspects such as energy production and transmission, buildings, industry and transportation. The top three brings no surprises. On the first place comes Germany, followed by Italy and the European Union as a whole. Surprising result: China comes at the fourth place, while the US only comes only at the 13th place of the 16 economies investigated. But there’s still room for improvement: even Germany was rewarded a mere 62 on a scale of 100.