Category Archives: Energy

Qualcomm Halo – The New Angel of EV Charging?


Qualcomm – changing the way we think about electric vehicles?

Electric cars and hybrids are fast becoming a normal and popular choice of transport for many ethically-minded people across the UK and rest of the world. As this demand is increasing, so too is the pressure to keep up with the technologies necessary to facilitate the battery charging that these vehicles require. Currently, the only charging facilities available are Electric Vehicle (EV) charger points, where the owner has to physically ‘plug in’ their car to an electricity supply. This obviously has its inconveniences, and there are a number of companies seeking to change this problem.

With regards to the UK, Qualcomm Inc. – a Californian company – appear to be taking the lead in this domain. They have created a partnership with various businesses including Renault, Addison Lee (the UK’s best know and largest minicab business), Delta Motorsport and Chargemaster (who are a provider of EV charging implementation) for a field trial of wireless electric car charging.

Qualcomm plan to use their Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology, named ‘Halo,’ on Renault vehicles as part of an upcoming trial in London. Halo makes use of inductive charging via a transmitting pad located on the ground and a receiving pad placed on the underside of the chosen vehicle. Halo’s technology has been based on two decades worth of research from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Mark Klerer, Senior Director of Technology at Qualcomm, considers the technology developed by his company as a major selling point for the EV industry, as currently the major off-putting factor and reason for lack of adoption for consumers is the hassle of having to manually plug cars in. He’s not the only one who thinks this – numerous scientists believe that this type of wireless charging could be implemented into roads in the future.

So while the charging in this trial will take place while the car is parked up, the on-board technology is apparently suitable for in-motion charging if the facility was to be available. This would mean vehicles charging themselves as they were being driven, and that could be very big game-changer indeed.

Award Winning Technology in The UK

Company HRS Heat Exchangers ‘scraped surface vacuum evaporator’ recently earned them an award at the National Recycling Awards for ‘Best Energy from Waste Initiative.’ The device was installed at an Anaerobic Digestion plant in Barkip, North Ayrshire, Scotland.

The Barkip plant, run by SSE, was opened in May this year and boasts the biggest combined organic waste treatment and energy generating service in the whole of Scotland. It can treat around 75,000 tonnes of organic waste in just one year, and can generate 2.2 megawatts of electricity from using the biogas that is combusted in its gas engines. As well as generating electricity, the heat that is created from this process is trapped and is added to the liquid fraction of the digestate to concentrate into a liquid, which can then be used as an agricultural fertiliser.

The plant makes use of organic matter such as food waste from a range of industries including food retail, food/alcohol production, and agriculture. The waste that is provided then undergoes a process of being broken down by bacteria, which in turn creates the biogas.

HRS is now renowned for demonstrating an innovate resolution for waste minimisation with the success of a good business strategy.

For more information on the other winners at the National Recycling Awards, please click here.

Onshore UK Wind Generation Increases Dramatically

UK wind generation on the increase? It’s a breeze!

According to recent findings, things are looking positive for the UK renewable energy sector. It has been reported by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that in the first quarter of 2012, energy generated from onshore wind turbines reached a significant 3.6 TWh (Terawatt Hours), compared to just 2.4 TWh in the last three months of 2011.

There have also been large increases in offshore wind generation, which was boosted by 50%, and hydro generation, which had risen by 43% – because of unusually high winter rainfall levels.

“Today’s statistics show a clear increase on the first quarter of last year across all renewables – with rises in wind, hydro, solar and bioenergy generation.” Stated Charles Hendry, Energy Minister, “Alongside a 36% increase in renewables capacity in the last 12 months, this shows that the UK is powering forward on clean and secure energy and is clearly a very attractive place to invest.”

However, there is still a long way to go in the fight to get a larger portion of the UK’s total energy supply to be obtained from renewable resources. According to the first quarter of 2012, renewables represent 3.8% of the total UK energy supply – again an increase from 3.2% in 2010 – but still a relatively small number in comparison to non-renewables. Although with that said, there have been decreases in certain fossil fuel consumptions – with gas now representing only 27% (at a 14-year low point), and nuclear generation is down to 17%.

So maybe not quite a ‘breeze’, but things are looking positive for renewables, and certainly going in the right direction.

 

ADI for the development of next generation virtual power plants

The Technology Strategy Board, the UK Government’s innovation agency, awarded their match-funded grant to a consortium set up by technology innovation firm the Advanced Digital Institute (ADI). This consortium included industry partners  such as ENER-G, Flexitricity, Smarter Grid Solutions and UK Power Networks. ADI is based in Saltaire, employs 12 staff, and has a customer range from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to corporates. They aim to help digital technology companies innovate.

The £100,000-worth of funding has been won by a project led by ADI to explore the development of “the next generation of virtual power plants”. These centrally-controlled plants will use clusters of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, small-scale generating capabilities at locations such as hospital and business parks, to bolster supply when they are not operating at capacity. The big idea behind this is that they want to help meet peaks in energy demand.

John Eaglesham, chief executive of ADI and managing the initiative, said that ADI s very excited to work together with some of the UK’s key smart grid industry players in addressing the challenge of future energy supply. The project will shore up electricity supply and they will also examine new solutions for low carbon and low cost heat distribution. This could incentivize the UK CHP industry to provide more CHPs in areas where current UK Government incentives have fallen short.

Dave Harson, programme manager at ADI, added to this that this is a completely new business area for ADI. So it’s also quite exciting for them to work in this area where they haven’t previously done any research in.

The feasibility study of ADI will try to find new ways of increasing overall security and efficiency of the electricity system, and decarbonising energy supplies across the UK as demand increases.  The study is scheduled for completion in May 2013.

Mr Harson also said that these assets are already around, they already exist anyway. So we need to tap into those and use them, use that capacity, so we don’t have to invest in other carbon-generating capacities to meet the demand. ADI will also include a large number smaller-scale CHP generators into a virtual power plant because they want to achieve “improves flexibility and greater load-balancing potential to improve resilience of supply and potentially reduce the need to large utility projects”.

Up until 2010, ADI used to receive public sector funding from Yorkshire Forward. But Harson said that business is good for the moment and ADI is now operating independently of any of that type of grant money. The grant they receive from their key partner the Technology Strategy Board is one to fund specific projects, as well as doing commercial work with other customers.

Chris Marsland, technical director at ENER-G, said that the project will investigate the feasibility of using networks of CHP generators to complement and reduce the need for reinforcement of the electricity network. The benefits of this could include greater use of clean electricity supplies, reduced domestic heating costs and less need for electricity infrastructure investments. So the project will benefit the industry and the consumers alike, while reducing carbon emissions.

The project will perform business and technical modeling based on data from UK Power Networks’s London electricity network. They use ENER-G CHP generator and software and a central control system provided by Smarter Grid Solutions. UK Power Network is also leading Low carbon London, a £30m programme that’s largely funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund, to help develop smart electricity networks in Britain.

TSB and DECC R&D Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

The Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), are funding five new projects that are researching and developing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. These government-backed projects want to bring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies into everyday use so they are using research and development to speed up the adoption of energy systems using hydrogen en fuel cell technologies.

They want to develop whole systems and they want to show that fuel cell systems and hydrogen technologies can work together with other energy and transport component such as renewable energy generation, refueling infrastructure and vehicles. So energy and transport components can be integrated with the fuel cell systems and hydrogen technologies. These technologies can also be used in low carbon energy systems and transport.

Mark Prisk, Business Minister, said that the UK has innovative business developing world-leading hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The UK wants to capture a share of the global market by developing a coherent capability and vibrant industry. If they are in the position to capture that share of the market, they will be able to attract international partnerships and inward investment. This will also cause a growth of the national economy and create job opportunities. These five new projects complement the already joint government/industry project called UK H2 Mobility. This project is currently evaluating potential roll-out scenarios for hydrogen for transport in the UK.

Greg Barker, Energy and Climate Change Minister, said that hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies are at the cutting edge of new low carbon energy solutions. It is important to see how these technologies can be integrated with other energy and transport products and it are these new and exciting government-supported projects that will look into that. He also said that he is looking forward to seeing the results.

The five new projects were selected through a competitive process and will be led by Air Products plc, BOC Ltd, ITM Power (Trading), Rutland Management Ltd and SSE plc. The projects will:

  • Create the UK’s first end-to-end, integrated, green hydrogen production, distribution and retailing system. This will be centered around a fully publically accessible, state-of-the-art 700 bar renewable H2 refueling station network across London (Air Products Plc).
  • Deliver solar energy generated hydrogen for Swindon’s exiting public access H2 refueling station. This will happen via an electrolyser. And its use in materials handling vehicles and light vans at Honda’s manufacturing plant (BOC Ltd).
  • Integrate an electrolyser based refueller with renewable energy on the Isle of Wight. This will enable zero carbon hydrogen to be produced for use as transport fuel for a range of vehicles (ITM Power).
  • Demonstrate a viable solar-hydrogen energy system through the 24/7 provision of green electricity and heat. The benefits will be shared by multiple end users of a business park in Surrey (Rutland Management Ltd).
  • Demonstrate a whole renewable hydrogen system, connecting a 1MWe electrolyser to the grid. This is in conjunction with an Aberdeenshire wind farm. They want to explore the grid impacts and energy storage potential of hydrogen generation, and provide green hydrogen produced to power a fleet of fuel cell buses (SSE plc).

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, added that these innovative, large-scale demonstrators will show how fuel cells and hydrogen technologies can be adapted, developed and integrated to provide real-time and real-world low carbon solutions. These projects will also show how the Technology Strategy Board can help the UK businesses to accelerate the development and commercialization of technological innovations.

A grant funding of £9 million is provided by the Technology Strategy Board and DECC. This means the total value of the projects, including contributions from the industrial partners, is in excess of £19 million. The projects are building on previous Government support for fuel cells and hydrogen systems, accelerating the process towards commercialization.