Tag Archives: London

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.

The road to a low carbon future- miles to go before we sleep?

London’s hopes of producing “the greenest Olympics ever”- potentially by generating enough renewable energy to cover the amount of energy the event will consume- might not quite measure up against their ambition sustainability goals, but not for lack of effort.

Understandably, London’s olympic organisers intended to showcase the region’s commitment to sustainability.

In a number of areas, England and the Uk have been pulling ahead in the race towards a low-carbon/clean energy future- recently ranking first among 12 of the world’s major economies.

There are other challenges still ahead. Plans for rolling out smart meters over the next couple of years is meeting opposition, and despite reports in the paper, The Independent, that “Britain is being powered by record levels of green energy (an increase in excess of 3% for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period of 2011), draft legislation under review in London could spell cuts to onshore wind energy programs- making onshore wind more expensive, leading to higher consumer bills.

We’re not alone in our predicament. Similar issues have arisen in the U.S, where smart meter installation has, in one instance, been met with extreme opposition as Thelma Taormina (55), resident of Harris County, pulled a gun on a CenterPoint Energy worker in order to prevent the installation of a smart meter on her property. Concern over the future of wind energy rings in the air as well, with the Production Tax Credit (PTC) due to expire later this year, and with their economic concerns, new tax incentives for renewables are looking less likely to be around the corner.

The Uk is still currently leading in offshore wind capacity, and aims to generate about 15% of our overall energy from renewable sources (such as wind, solar, and biomass) by 2020- and the road to a low-carbon, greener future looks to be more of a marathon than a sprint.

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.

Smart alternative energy sources

The whole world is looking for alternative energy sources since traditional sources are getting exhausted, are polluting the world, or for other reasons. The world is already using renewable energy sources like solar panels,  wind turbines and biofuels.  These are becoming more and more popular and so widely used that they can’t be called alternative sources anymore. And what we want to talk about now are some truly alternative fuels that are being developed. The following technologies show some promises for the future as renewable energy sources but it must be said that most of them aren’t ready yet for commercial use.

How efficient would it be if human energy can be used to power personal devices. That’s where a lot of research is going to for the moment. There already are some inventions that allow you to create energy just by wearing something. For example a knee brace that can convert the kinetic energy of the moving leg into useable electricity. Or a backpack that can create energy from the motion of walking. And a very good example of a smart, new technology is the newly built Westfield Stratford City Mall that’s built for the London Olympics. The paving stones of this mall absorb kinetic energy from peoples footsteps and can create energy out of this.

Some other energy sources that are being developed are small generators that can create electricity from viruses or a t-shirt battery which will be able to store enough energy to power small electronic devices. But all these technologies are still in the early stages of development. So it will probably take years before they can be used in a large scale. However, there are some alternative electricity generating systems that are already, or almost in production.

An example is hydrogen, which has been considered a potential energy source from sometime now. Another great example is a robotic jellyfish, created by scientists at Virginia Tec. This robotic jellyfish can take hydrogen from the water to create the power it needs. So this effectively gives it an unlimited power source. Researchers at Harvard also recently created a hydrogen fuel cell which can create energy from hydrogen and store it like a battery. The prototype can now store about three and a half minutes worth of power but the researchers have the next couple of years to think about ways to increase this.

The Open House Worldwide Conference 2012

The Open House Worldwide Conference 2012, hosted by CBRE in London, centered on the cohesive development of our cities this year. There were a lot of delegates present from important companies like BDP, Hawkins Brown, Nicholas Hare Architects, Pick Everard and Foster + Partners.  International member of the growing Open House family were also present, including New York and Tel-Aviv. And Victoria Thornton, founder of this conference, said that Philadelphia also hopes to join the 22-strong Open House family.

Thornton said that the main focus of the conference this year was on how to create Smart Cities that use technology with design innovations while addressing pressing social agendas. So it was very appropriate that the conference started with a presentation by Rashik Parmar, President of IBM Academy of Technology, since the whole concept of Smart Cities emerged from the world of IT.

Parmar talked about the importance of the citizens of cities. He said that analytic technology can be used to support the sustainability agendas. He strengthened his words by giving the example of IBMs Rio de Janero’s intelligent Operations Centre. They reduced traffic accident delays from one hour to ten minutes.

Lean Doody, known for her work within Arup’s Smart Cities, describes cities as ‘engines of innovation’ which should allow people to interact in efficient manners. San Francisco was highlighted as one of the key cities in the creation of Smart Cities because this city already uses a lot of technological innovations to create smart living and working places. For example they introduced a smart parking app which reduced the carbon emission and congestion. Sensors were places into every parking space within the city of San Francisco, these sensors can give information to the people in the city, telling them which parking spaces are available. This reduces block-cycling car emissions and it generates traffic data that can be used for further, future development.

Tim Stonor, Managing Director of Space Syntax, talked about how important space is in his presentation ‘Human Cities’. He said that many historical masterplans often failed because they are rarely realized in their entirety. So careful incremental development is needed to provide the opportunity to learn and improve upon past failings. This can be the path to smarter progress.

Our cities nowadays are shielded, and this can cause a discontinuous flow which exaggerated the need for fossil fuels, by the increased consumption of stop-start traffic. So a good connectivity in road and transport networks is very important for social, economic, cultural and intellectual developments. These are the main purposes of the city and these should also influence the design of the city.

Stonor said that we have to think about the shift in the world’s urban population, which will probably triple by 2050. The current trend of informal settlements being ‘locally connected and globally disconnected’ has to shift, more diverse cities need to be created because this will be better for the inhabitants and for the cities themselves.

He said our planet will face challenges in the future which we never heard of because the planet never had to face these challenges before. He encourages cities to speculate about how we might design for these challenges because in the future, cities will be a vital answer to many of the challenges. So they must be seamlessly designed to provide and enhance serendipitous interactions between people.

Malcolm Smith, Director of Arup, said that we have to start thinking smart all the time now and cities must be designed and measured in a way that citizens can afford and want to stay in them. He used the heat networks of London Thames Gateway as an example to emphasize that we must be inherently smart.

So the conference had a very diverse range of speakers from different backgrounds. The conference looked beyond the architecture’s immediate sphere of influence because in order to create Smart Cities, we need to tackle much more issues than architecture. Issues like future pressure of climate change, environmental disaster, terrorism and population growth need to be tackles to work towards smart, cohesive cities.