Time and time again, research has told us that a greater adoption of electric cars will significantly reduce urban air pollution as well as carbon emissions, not to mention the other benefits that come with the associated uptake and use of renewable energy.
Several reasons consumers may still be hesitant in commiting to EVs include a lack of support and incentives from government as well as an underdeveloped charging station network.
Electric cars research from Curtin University
Research conducted by Dr Andrew Simpson (Curtin University) indicates the following statistical results concerning a switch of one million gas run cars to that of electric ones:
- Such a swap could mean that toxic air pollutant emissions may be reduced by close to 150,000 – 300,000 tonnes per year.
- If the electric cars were to be charged utilising renewable energy sources, greenhouse gas emissions may be reduced by 3.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.
- A million electric run cars are also able to generate close to 45,000 gigawatt hours of pure renewable energy via the vehicle-to-grid ancillary services linked up to the smart grid itself. Such actions will further reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 41 million tonnes, in other words close to 8% of Australia’s total emissions annually.
Such figures sound amazing and the effects are all positive but it depends of course on the fact that the electric cars are powered utilising renewable energy sources.
Limitations of electric cars predicted to resolve with improving technology
Supplying EVs with renewable energy is very do-able in today’s technologically advanced era. These cars may need huge amounts of energy to run, but they also come backed up with storage facilities, almost as much as 25 kilowatts an hour. Such features allow for intermittent supplies of energy, for example from solar generators or even wind, to be less of an issue to utilise. The fact is that most cars are stationary for most of the time, and are therefore available to use such an intermittent supply of energy when it is available.
Such advantages can only be achieved if a specific energy supplier is also managing or has access to an EV charging infrastructure which will balance the charging loads against the total availability of energy as well as capacity available from the network.
Almost all newer auto companies have major plans in the works to offer an array of electric cars into the market. In order for those cars to have an impact on pollutant emissions as well as carbon dioxide emissions, they need to be mass marketed utilising renewable energy instead of a one-of-a-kind alternative for those clients wishing to live a “greener and cleaner” lifestyle.
Better Place providing assistance to EV drivers to improve experience
Better Place, is a company based in Silicon Valley and has built its core business around the fact that it wants to have a part in the global transition to electric vehicles. This two year start-up doesn’t manufacture cars, they actually develop and build the various networks needed to allow EVs to be easier to use, affordable and an enjoyment to drive.
Drivers need to be enticed to try electric cars as there are a number of barriers hampering wide-scale adoption of them. Such barriers include the fact that they must be easy to keep charged, which would include keeping and installing charging stations within homes and even car parks so that the vehicles can be plugged in when not in use.
Such “smart” charging stations will be able to recognize an individual car which is plugged in, so that Better Place can meter the actual charge utilised and send it via their network. The cost will then be sent through to the owner and allow drivers to charge their cars at various points, for example, at a friend’s house without affecting their energy costs.
Extensive charging infrastructure essential to widespread uptake
Battery exchange facilities are also a must in allowing for ease of operation, where a depleted battery can be swapped for a new one. Initial infrastructure will allow for enough coverage to meet the needs of drivers traveling between and around major cities. In-car software will integrate all the information about the battery’s state of charge as well as car location and positioning.
All electric cars infrastructure is networked to make sure that the vehicles are recharged as well as prevent an overload of demand on the network and the grid. In order to prevent this from taking place, the company utilises a networked infrastructure as well as various charging schedules for when renewable energy if most available.
Being cost effective is another element in greater scale adoption of EVs, therefore Better Place pays for the expensive car battery and will aim to recover the costs through a charge paid by the driver on a monthly basis.
The costs of building and implementing such infrastructure needed for electric cars is monumental, and as a result in Australia, Better Place has partnered with AGL Energy as well as financial company Macquarie Group (they have agreed to aid in business development as well as help with raising $1 billion to build the said infrastructure). AGL’s responsibility is to provide the electricity needed through renewable sources.
Photo by: epSos .de on Flickr