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Solar Powered Electric Car Charging Station Tested At Piraeus University

The Piraeus University of Applied Sciences has recently launched the first solar powered electric car charging station in Greece; this innovation guarantees 100% green energy. The charging point only uses solar power which gets turned into electricity which in turn charges EV batteries. It is the first step on the road to becoming independent from the main electricity grid. Though it is a promising innovation, it is still only in its test phase where it is being used for training and research.

Truly Clean Energy

Professor Ioannis Kaldelis is part of the department responsible for the plan and he said the goal is to create a charging station that uses only renewable energy sources. The end result is that electric cars finally run on “truly green energy.” Kaldelis pointed out that at present, Greece’s electricity is created mainly from imported natural gas and lignite.
He stated that creating the station was easy as it involved the use of 3 KW photovoltaic panels which generate enough power to charge an EV in winter and two electric cars in summer when there is more sun. At the station, motorists can fill their batteries or charge their car directly at the charging point.

piraeus university electric car charging station

Piraeus University 100% solar electric car charging station. Image source: Google

Giorgos Spyropoulos came up with the idea for the station which is located outside the Elaionas Campus and it was built by him and a team of students, both undergraduate and postgraduate. It is funded by a number of private companies and the University.

According to Kaldelis, a charging station such as this one can be created in 14 days when red tape is set aside and he admitted that the idea came about because of the rise in prominence of electric cars. He also said that it was the perfect transport solution on small Greek islands as a fully charged vehicle can travel 100-150km on a single charge. This is more than enough for tourists to travel around on a daily basis.

Costs

Kaldelis also said that these charging points could be mass produced for around €20,000 each. The trouble is, electric cars are hardly used in Greece; there are only 60 on the roads at present. Part of the reason is cost; the cheapest models are €20,000 while many EVs can cost as much as €60,000, far beyond the price of gas models.

Yet the Greek public need to be persuaded and long-term savings can be a way of doing so. It can cost as little as €1 for every 100km of use because charging is so cheap. While it can take 7-8 hours to fully charge a vehicle, there are systems available that halve the waiting time; the problem is, they cost €3,000.

Tesla Looks To Conquer Australia & Has Plans For New Charging Network

Early in December 2014, Tesla finally began selling its electric vehicles in Australia with its first showroom officially opened in north Sydney by company founder Elon Musk. The first EV available from the Tesla range for Australian motorists is the Model S, a four-door sedan with an impressive 500km range.

Tesla also unveiled its two supercharger stations; one is in the Sydney showroom while the other is at Darling Harbour’s Star casino. These stations will allow electric drivers to fully charge their vehicles in 60 minutes and half charge it in 20 minutes. While it is not the first electric car on the Australian market, the Model S is certainly one of the most expensive at $117,000 AUD. Add in extras such as a dual motor to increase the range and power plus an amazing autopilot feature which has the ability to change lanes and steer autonomously and the price goes to $200,000AUD.

According to Heath Walker, the company spokesman in Australia, the vehicle’s 500km range and ability to accelerate from 0-100km in 3.4 seconds means it is well worth the price as it rivals high-performance vehicles in the same price bracket. Walker described the Tesla Model S as the fastest accelerating 4-door sedan that has ever been built.

A Lifestyle Statement

If you decide to purchase the Model S, bear in mind that you also have to pay the cost of installing the 40-amp single phase charger which is crucial for the smooth running of the vehicle. If you live in an older home, you may have to pay up to $1,000AUD for an electrical system upgrade that can power the Model S. In contrast, it is possible to plug the Nissan Leaf or Holden Volt into a regular household powerpoint and both vehicles are substantially cheaper than the Model S.

Tesla Super Charger Network

Tesla Super Charger Network. Source: Google Images

Supercharger Network

Tesla also announced plans to add eight superchargers across Australia in cities such as Canberra and Melbourne with more superchargers to be installed in Sydney in 2015. Tesla hopes to extend its network to Brisbane in 2016.

The company’s Gigafactory is scheduled to be opened in Nevada in 2017; this plant will create lithium ion batteries and this mass production should help reduce the price of Tesla models. Eventually, the company hopes to introduce the Model III in Australia for a slightly more affordable $60,000AUD which brings the price below the nation’s luxury car tax; this should make the Model III an appealing prospect.

UK-Based Pod Point Raises £1.2 Million For National Network Of Electric Car Chargers

Along with a lack of power, the issue of range is one of the biggest concerns raised by electric car drivers. Norway is the world’s #1 nation when it comes to driving EVs and in 2013, its Language Council added the word rekkeviddeangst to the Norwegian lexicon; it means ‘range anxiety’! There is a Formula E Championship which is a bit like Formula 1 but with electric cars. The trouble is, each driver needs two cars a race because of lack of range!

Range anxiety has been touted as the main reason why electric cars have not made the sales that were originally forecast. Manufacturers are trying to fix the problem; possible solutions include more powerful batteries and more charger points. Electric car companies are struggling to create better batteries and creating a national network of chargers is an endeavour so expensive that only Estonia has managed it to date and it is a relatively small country.

A New Solution?

Pod Point is a UK-based company and it hopes to find the solution to range anxiety by developing a national network of charging points. It is following a similar model created by Charge Point, an American firm. Both companies are cleverly not shelling out their own cash. Pod Point is looking to sell or lease hardware to organisations that can offer a charging station for a fee or for no charge depending on the preference of the buyer. For example, Sainsbury’s has installed over 170 chargers in its shops around the UK while Gatwick and Heathrow airports also have charging points sold by Pod Point.

Pod Point

Pod Point. Source: Google Images

Expansion

According to Erik Fairbairn, the CEO of Pod Point, the company model looks to install chargers in areas of high demand; chargers in public places where there is high traffic for example should help reduce the feeling of range anxiety experienced by EV drivers. With chargers close to areas where you will be parked, less time is spent worrying about whether you have enough power to get home or not.

Pod Point makes money from the hardware and from services. Pod Point software can be used to manage pricing while the company has an app which can be used to pay for charging your car. The company is in talks with the national grid where it is negotiating a deal to supply power to consumers at peak times. Fairbairn said the company can pause charging for up to a minute which allows utility companies to balance demand across the UK with the supply of power on the grid. Obviously, the company will charge a fee for this service.

Pod Point is still a relatively small company and has shipped 17,000 chargers; most of which are for private homes and internal business use with around 1,300 chargers available for public use. The company is hoping to expand and has raised £1.2 million on Seedrs which is a crowdfunding website and it believes more money will be invested before the campaign ends.

According to Fairbairn, investing in Pod Point is a good strategy because the company is profitable. Electric car sales increased almost 150% from January-October 2014 in the UK when compared to the same period in 2013. It will be interesting to see just how far Pod Point can take its goal of developing a national charging point network.

Exciting Tests Suggest Electric Cars Could Potentially Self-Charge & Self-Drive

European researchers are working on a new project where electric vehicles will pick up their owners after being fully charged. This is part of the V-Charge project which is funded by the EU’s 7th Framework Programme and is technology being designed to address challenges of the future related to attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Paul Furgale is the deputy director of the Autonomous Systems Lab at ETH Zurich and he believes we have to rethink our transportation systems in order to facilitate a smooth transition to electric vehicles from fossil fuels. He acknowledges the fact that existing EVs are undesirable for consumers because of the short range and lack of performance. He believes it is necessary to combine EVs with public transport elements.

V-Charge Project

The project is coming to a conclusion and is dedicated to creating electric cars that become autonomous to the stage where they can drop off a driver, find the nearest charging station, charge, find a parking spot and return to their driver’s location for a pick up. According to Furgate, the driver would be ceding control of the car to the on-board system. A Smartphone app would be used for this process and it would be used again in order to call the car back.

The research team is comprised of Europe’s top scientists and they are using inexpensive sensors that are almost market ready. These sensors can be integrated into EVs to allow them to drive autonomously without needing constant access to the GPS signal. Furgale said the car had to access its environment in real time and must be equipped with smart software and ultrasonic sensors which have the ability to detect the location of objects within their environment and also to calculate their trajectories.

Yet Furgale admits that driving autonomously at low speeds in underground garages and car parks possessed risks that would not be apparent when driving on a motorway. As people are unpredictable in areas where cars drive slowly, it would be tough for the car to figure out if the objects are static or moving and must also determine the direction and speed of the object’s movement. This means calculating hundreds of trajectories a second.

The research team has performed autonomous tests with a converted VW Polo which had 12 ultrasonic sensors, four fish eye cameras and stereo cameras at the front and back of the vehicle. When these sensors are combined, they can calculate the vehicle’s position in relation to other objects (such as pedestrians and other cars) and ensure the car is safely parked. The V-Charge project team believe their creation is almost market-ready; their main concern is to make the parking algorithms even more precise to ensure the vehicle can find the charging point and put itself in the right position for a charge.

Exciting Prototype Battery Set To Increase Electric Car Range By 100%!

Seeo is a start-up which has developed a lithium-ion battery. This experimental development is based on U.S. Department of Energy laboratory materials. These batteries could have a profound impact on the electric car market as they store twice as much energy as the batteries you will find in the majority of electric vehicles.

According to the CEO of Seeo, Hal Zarem, these batteries could ensure electric cars have a range of 200 miles which would certainly make them a lot more popular for consumers. One of the biggest issues preventing the electric car revolution from really taking off is the 100 mile range limit on most vehicles. Add in a price tag of $31,000 (£20,000) and a lack of charging stations and it is easy to see why many people still purchase gas-guzzling cars.

Another possible use of this new technology is to halve the size of existing batteries. This would reduce the weight of the cars and decrease production costs which means electric cars would be significantly cheaper while still having a range of 100 miles per charge.

The Technology

Seeo is based in California and has raised approximately $15 million (£10 million) from investors such as Samsung Ventures. It hopes to start shipping its new batteries to possible customers for evaluation in 2015.

The Seeo prototype is a ‘solid-state’ battery which means a solid electrolyte replaces the liquid one currently used in electric car batteries. The Seeo battery is made with pure lithium so it can store more energy. While other organisations have created pure lithium batteries with solid electrolytes, none of them have managed to come close to the energy storage capacity of the Seeo invention.

Normally, solid electrolytes are unable to conduct ions as well as their liquid counterparts and pure lithium forms metal filaments that result in short circuits. By incorporating lithium into another substance (like graphite), this problem can be prevented. However, the Seeo electrolyte has a soft polymer layer to conduct ions and a hard layer to create a barrier between the electrodes thus preventing the aforementioned short circuits.

Other companies that have created similar batteries have been forced to make other changes to the battery which reduces storage capacity. Seeo has managed to circumnavigate this issue and is understandably remaining tight-lipped about the process. According to Zarem, the standard equipment used to create lithium-ion batteries can be used to make the new Seeo battery.

Questions

Of course, there are still a number of unanswered questions. For example, Seeo is unable to tell us how often their new batteries can be recharged before running out of power permanently. While prototype cells have lasted 100 charges in testing, 1,000 charges is the real target if Seeo want their battery to be a genuine contender. Additionally, lithium-ion batteries are getting better and less expensive. For example, manufacturers such as Panasonic and Tesla Motors are hoping to create electric cars that cost just $31,000 (£20,000) and have a 200 mile range.

Electric Police Cars From Around The World

We’ve already reported that both Sussex and West Midlands Police Forces are adopting electric cars in the UK, but a quick search on Google Images and Google News and you’ll quickly find Police Forces from around the World have taken to electric police cars. Here’s a few we’ve chosen…

Germany

Mini electric police car

Mini electric police car. Image: Google UK

United Kingdom

Vehicle: Mitsubishi i-Miev

Mitsubishi i-Miev Electric Police Car

Mitsubishi i-Miev Electric Police Car. Image: Google UK

Portugal

Vehicle: Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf Electric Police Car

Nissan Leaf Electric Police Car. Image: Google UK

United States

Vehicle: Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Electric Police Car

Tesla Model S Electric Police Car. Image: Google UK

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