Port of Los Angeles establishes hydrogen trial for regional movement of goods

Port of Los Angeles establishes hydrogen trial for regional movement of goods

The Port of Los Angeles has taken delivery of five hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles and established two hydrogen fuelling stations under its $82.5 million Shore-to-Store project.

12-month demonstration is part of the Port’s Clean Air Action Plan designed to help California achieve climate change, air quality improvement and sustainability targets. In addition, it will assess the operational and technical feasibility of the vehicles in a heavy-duty setting, as well as expanding infrastructure to support hydrogen throughout the region.

“Transporting goods between our Port and the metropolitan area of Inland Empire is the first leg of this next journey toward a zero-emissions future,” Gene Seroka, Port of Los Angeles executive director, said. “This project is a model for developing and commercialising the next generation of clean trucks and cargo-handling equipment for the region and beyond. Just as the air we breathe extends beyond the Port’s footprint, so should the clean air and economic benefits we believe this project will yield.”

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is supporting the project with a matching grant of $41.1 million. Project partners are contributing the remaining $41.4 million in financial and in-kind support.

“For generations, neighbourhoods located next to high volume traffic corridors have experienced disproportionately high rates of air pollution and pollution-related illness, particularly in the greater Los Angeles region,” Craig Segall, CARB deputy executive officer, said. “We are working steadily to change this trajectory by helping to fund, support and promote comprehensive efforts like the Shore-to-Store Project that will run cleaner and quieter trucks that will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower smog-forming emissions as well. It’s a sizable investment in a project with the potential to radically transform how we move freight in one of the most populous regions in the US”

Partners in the project are Toyota Logistics Services (TLS), UPS, and trucking companies Total Transportation Services (TTSI) and Southern Counties Express (SCE). Gas and technology leader Air Liquide is also participating as a fuel supplier. Shell built and will operate the project’s two new high-capacity hydrogen fuelling stations.

Major UK construction firm installs car chargers at all sites and offices to encourage staff to switch    

Major UK construction firm installs car chargers at all sites and offices to encourage staff to switch   

UK construction firm Willmott Dixon has unveiled plans to install electric car chargers at all of its sites and offices.

The contractor is working with EV charge point provider Rolec to install charging points at more than 100 locations this year for the 300 staff who have switched, or are switching, to electric cars under the company’s car scheme.

Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer, said, “Our 2030 ‘Now or Never’ strategy, launched last autumn, set some of the toughest science-based targets in the industry, including a pledge to have no direct emissions from our day-to-day operations by eliminating fossil fuel use in our offices and on our sites by 2030.

“In order to achieve this, it is critical that we move to a 100% electric vehicle fleet, which will only be viable if we are able to provide our people with the relevant equipment to make this step change possible.

“In January, we launched a new vehicle scheme, encouraging our people to consider electric vehicles and we have already seen several hundred applications.  By installing electric vehicle charging points at our sites and offices, we are creating the infrastructure to support this change.

“Since 2019, all our offices and sites have been powered by certified, natural renewable electricity. By combining renewable electricity powered charging points with electric vehicles, we are proud to able to provide a truly sustainable vehicle solution for our people.”

Manchester Mobility Hub prioritises streets for people, but locals call it a car park with a glossy spin

Manchester Mobility Hub prioritises streets for people, but locals call it a car park with a glossy spin

A planning application for an urban mobility hub in Ancoats area of Manchester in north west England has been submitted, which would see cycle spaces and an electric car club brought to the Manchester neighbourhood. The planned hub is a joint venture between Manchester City Council and Manchester Life, a housing company part-owned by Manchester City Football Club owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Under the application, the Ancoats Mobility Hub would operate from the end of 2023 as a shared facility to ensure Ancoats grows as a ‘people first’ neighbourhood that prioritises streets for people over vehicles and provides sustainable and shared mobility choices.

Those behind the mobility hub say the streets and public space across the neighbourhood will immediately become cleaner and safer as on-street parking is removed and vehicle movements across the area are reduced.

Local reaction is however divided. Mobility Hubs are usually a piece of infrastructure or place that integrates both public and private transport to discourage the use of private cars. Critics of the Ancoats design say it fails to include any links to public transport or other modes of travel such as cycle lanes.

Local opposition Liberal Democrat politicians say it is no more than a multi-storey car park with ‘a glossy spin’.

But Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, responded, “The Hub is a UK first. Anyone who thinks this is ‘just another car park’ is massively missing the point.”

“The purpose of a car park is to park cars. The purpose of the Hub is to help transform the neighbourhood over time, pioneering new ways of getting around and encouraging people to choose greener and healthier transport options. This is about thinking and acting differently.

“We have to recognise that many people who choose to live in the city centre require cars for their daily life and work. But we do want to be very deliberate in making sustainable transport changes easier and more attractive – encouraging the use of electric vehicles, cycles and other forms of active travel while supporting the transition away from petrol and diesel.”

Gridserve takes over the UK’s Electric Highway charging network

Gridserve takes over the UK’s Electric Highway charging network

Ecotricity has confirmed the sale of its Electric Highway national charging network to Gridserve. The sale comes after Gridserve and Ecotricity recently announced a partnership, with the goal of upgrading the UK’s charging infrastructure.

Ecotricity started developing the Electric Highway a decade ago and is widely recognised as a key player in helping to kickstart the UK’s electric car market. In a decade, charging has evolved from 3-pin plugs and 7kW charging to the current state-of-the-art 350kW, capable of providing 100 miles of charge in around 5 minutes, while typical car range has increased from 80 miles to over 300.

This technical progress and rapid price convergence of new electric cars with their fossil counterparts has seen more than 500,000 plug-in cars now on UK roads – with around 7% of new vehicles sales so far in 2021 being pure electric vehicles. Many of the world’s largest car manufacturers have announced dates for the final production of fossil powered cars and the Government have put a long stop on this by announcing a ban on the sale of new petrol or diesel vehicles by 2030.

Gridserve is to ramp up investment in the Electric Highway with the replacement of all the existing chargers on the network with new technology that features latest advances including contactless payment – and the opening last month of the first high power charging facility at Moto’s new flagship Motorway services at Rugby, featuring 12 x 350kW chargers.

Dale Vince, Founder, Ecotricity, said, “We’ve reached an interesting point in the electric car revolution, exponential growth is just around the corner, the technology for charging has evolved and an incredible rate of charging is now possible. Using an electric car is almost on a par with using a fossil powered car, where you can just top up once every week or two. And the Electric Highway needs a growth spurt, to make sure that it stays ahead of driver demand and continues to play its key role, as the network that delivers more miles every year than any other. For this the Electric Highway needs an owner with access to serious funding and real commitment to the cause – I’m delighted to have found the ideal company to hand the baton to, in Gridserve.”

Toddington Harper, CEO, Gridserve, added, “It’s a real honour for Gridserve to have been chosen by Ecotricity as the organisation to take the Electric Highway forward in its next phase. The upgraded network will provide the confidence for millions more people to make the successful transition to electric vehicles in the earliest possible timeframes.”

Ecotricity says the sale will enable it to push new boundaries in its core green energy business – with innovations such as Britain’s first Green Gasmill – a process of making gas for the grid from grass. It will also bring forward a series of solar and battery storage projects and expand its Sky Mining facility – a carbon capture and storage process that turns atmospheric carbon dioxide into diamonds.

Hitachi and Arrival offer European bus operators competitive total cost of ownership electric packages

Hitachi and Arrival offer European bus operators competitive total cost of ownership electric packages

Electric vehicle developer Arrival and Hitachi Europe have announced a partnership to deliver electric bus and infrastructure solutions across Europe.

The partnership combines Hitachi’s digital and operational capabilities with Arrival’s products. The two companies will work with bus operators to deploy integrated solutions that incorporate all aspects of owning and operating Arrival vehicles, including items such as charging infrastructure and digital tools. They claim the approach makes electric buses competitive in price with fossil fuel alternatives.

Mike Nugent, Head of EV, at Hitachi Europe, says: “We’re delighted to join forces with Arrival as we become the partner of choice for municipalities and bus operators to deliver end to end and integrated estate wide rollouts of electric vehicles and infrastructure. As governments look to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles in the next decade, providing the wide range of necessary solutions and technologies in an integrated, streamlined and operationally-manageable way will be vital for bus operators and municipalities across Europe.”

Hamish Phillips, Head of Sales, UK, at Arrival, adds: “We are pleased to work with Hitachi to bring bus operators yet another way to accelerate their transition to electric. Arrival’s vehicles already provide a much lower total cost of ownership for customers, and when incorporated into Hitachi’s business model we can see an even more compelling business case for companies to transition their fleets to electric more rapidly.”

Toyota reveals plan to establish city scale hydrogen societies across Japan

Toyota reveals plan to establish city scale hydrogen societies across Japan

Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture and Toyota Motor Corporation have outlined plans to build a city scale testbed for hydrogen technologies. Similar in concept, but ultimately larger than Toyota’s already announced Woven City project, the aim at Fukushima is to establish a model for a future hydrogen society within a city of 300,000 people.

Toyota’s project partners include Hino Motors, Isuzu Motors and DENSO Corporation. The project partners believe they can create a blueprint that can be rolled out to similar-sized cities across Japan.

Fukushima Prefecture suffered a devasting nuclear reactor meltdown in the aftermath of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. It now plans to focus on hydrogen-based technologies. The new city will make use of hydrogen produced at multiple sites in the prefecture, including Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field (FH2R), introduce several fuel cell trucks for deliveries, optimise operational management and hydrogen refilling schedules through the use of connected technologies, and carry out energy management that caters to the prevailing local conditions.

Toyota, and its partners will also operate fuel cell kitchen cars and medical cars, and use hydrogen at stores and plants in Fukushima Prefecture to reduce supply chain carbon emissions.

In a statement Toyota says, “Following the announcement of Japan’s 2050 Carbon Neutral Goal, there is a growing need for concrete initiatives aimed at building sustainable societies that can be passed on to future generations. Fukushima Prefecture, Toyota, and its partners share this conviction; to this end, they intend to steadily promote the realisation of one of the world’s first hydrogen societies, and of carbon neutrality, by expanding their spheres of cooperation, and taking advantage of the diverse regional characteristics of Fukushima Prefecture.”

Joby plans to build out “skyports” at car park rooftops across the US

Joby plans to build out “skyports” at car park rooftops across the US

Californian electric vertical take-off aircraft developer Joby Aviation has announced a partnership with major US parking company REEF Technology to develop takeoff and landing sites for its aerial ridesharing service, which it expects to launch in 2024.

REEF’s assets include more than 5,000 car parking sites across North America and Europe and the deal could transform what are often underutilised assets into multi-use mobility hubs.

The partnership also includes NPG, a real estate acquisition company affiliated with REEF for the targeted acquisition of mobility hubs across the United States.

Through the arrangement, Joby gains access to an unparalleled range of rooftop locations across all key metropolitan areas in the US, as well as a mechanism to fund the acquisition and development of new skyport sites. The companies will focus initially on Los Angeles, Miami, and the New York and San Francisco Bay Area metropolitan areas.

With an aircraft that is expected to be more than 100 times quieter than a conventional helicopter, Joby sees a significant opportunity to deliver its aerial ridesharing service from downtown locations, repurposing the often dormant top level of many parking garage structures.

Joby says parking garages are particularly well-suited to hosting skyports, as they:

  • Are typically located near popular destinations
  • Have adequate space to host customers, flight operations, and aircraft charging
  • Do not require structural reinforcement to support air taxi services
  • Provide obstruction-free approach and departure paths that minimize noise to the surrounding community
  • Are naturally suited to becoming mobility hubs, supporting seamless connectivity to micromobility, public transit, parking, and ridesharing

“This is a landmark deal on Joby’s path to building a transformational ridesharing service in our skies,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO at Joby Aviation. “NPG and REEF have an unbeatable network of sites across the US and we’re excited to be working with them to identify sites that will become the backbone of our future service.

“Parking structures are ideal locations for us as they allow us to deliver our customers as close to their destination as possible, while minimizing any local impact and reducing the need for building new infrastructure.”

Philippe Saint-Just, co-founder of REEF, said: “With our focus on transforming urban spaces into community hubs that enable the future of mobility, aerial ridesharing is a compelling opportunity for us to decarbonise travel and make better use of structures such as parking garages.

Under the agreement, Joby will enjoy a period of exclusivity during which it can secure long-term rooftop leases on skyport sites within NPG and REEF’s network of parking garages.

Joby intends to offer a passenger service, accessible via an app, that offers riders a faster, emissions-free way to move distances of 5-150 miles in congested metropolitan areas at an accessible price point.

In December 2020, Joby announced the acquisition of Uber Elevate, integrating the team’s data, modeling, and insight into site selection.

As part of the deal, Uber and Joby also agreed to integrate their services into each other’s apps, helping to create a seamless customer experience where an Uber car would bring riders to a skyport just in time for their flight and, if necessary, another car would complete the journey to their final destination.

India’s Medicine from the Sky project sets pathway for beyond visual line of sight drone trials

India’s Medicine from the Sky project sets pathway for beyond visual line of sight drone trials

India’s on-demand delivery platform Dunzo is to pilot the delivery of medicines via drones in the southern Indian state of Telangana. Supporting the government’s ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project, the impetus, Dunzo said, is to enable medical deliveries including COVID-19 vaccines.

“The drone delivery system will focus on an end-to-end ecosystem for drone-based logistic transportation and utilize the existing logistics network of the state,” Dunzo said in a statement. The ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project recently received conditional approval from India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Director-General of Civil Aviation to deploy drones for delivering COVID-19 vaccines. The Telangana government has permission to carry out experimental deliveries but initially only within the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) Range, or roughly 500 metres, for a period of one year. After this approval, the consortium hopes to move to Beyond Visual Line of Sight trials.

“Telangana is one of the most proactive states looking to adopt emerging technologies, and the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project using drones is in line with the same principles. This project is one of the first such programs in the country where multiple drones would fly BVLOS to establish their value proposition for the healthcare supply chain.  The vision is to ensure healthcare equity for rural areas,” said Jayesh Ranjan, IAS, Principal Secretary, ITE&C Department, Government of Telangana.

Dunzo CEO Kabeer Biswas said that with technology it can now be ensured that no matter where people live, life-saving essentials can and should reach them.” We appreciate the Government of Telangana’s recognition of the role technology can play in today’s world to build safer cities. We believe our participation in the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project will facilitate a more connected state and country, allowing people almost instantaneous access to vaccines and medicines from the most populous to most remote areas in India in the near future,” he said.

Chinese develop electric school bus with bi-directional charging

Chinese develop electric school bus with bi-directional charging

BYD, China’s leading electric bus maker, has introduced an 84-seat battery-electric school bus that supports bi-directional charging. Potentially, BYD says, the bus could be charged overnight when energy demand is low and then help power the classroom during school hours when the bus is parked.

The bus has a range of up to 155 miles on a single charge.

Key safety features include electronic stability control to aid handling, a collision avoidance system, and a 360-degree monitoring system to detect pedestrians and cyclists when the bus is operating at slow speeds. It also features a Predictive Stop Arm, which monitors approaching traffic and notifies students when it may not be safe to cross.

Although e-buses are still a fraction of all bus transportation globally, the sector is projected to grow significantly propelled by increasing emissions regulations and directives from governments across the globe.

Renault and Plug Power joint venture to develop commercial vehicle hydrogen ecosystem

Renault and Plug Power joint venture to develop commercial vehicle hydrogen ecosystem

Renault Group and US hydrogen and fuel cell manufacturer Plug Power Inc have formed a joint venture called HYVIA to offer a “complete ecosystem” for fuel cell powered light commercial vans with green hydrogen and refuelling stations across Europe.

HYVIA is equally owned by the two partners, the head office and R&D teams will be located at Villiers-Saint-Frédéric, in France, alongside Renault’s light commercial vehicle engineering and development centre. The process, manufacturing and logistics teams will be based in Flins, as part of the Re-Factory project, and plan to begin the assembly of fuel cells and recharging stations by end of 2021.

The first three fuel cell vehicles brought to market by HYVIA will be based on the Renault Master platform and should be available in Europe by end of 2021 and accompanied with the deployment of charging stations and the supply of green hydrogen.

Luca de Meo, CEO Renault Group, says, “As a pioneer in new energies and the European leader in electric light commercial vehicles, Renault Group is pursuing its objective of having the greenest mix on the market by 2030. This joint venture integrates the entire hydrogen mobility ecosystem in a unique way, from the vehicle to infrastructure and turnkey services for customers. The development of this cutting-edge technology will enable us to strengthen our industrial base and set up new value-generating activities in France in this promising segment.”

Andrew Marsh, CEO Plug Power, adds, “Plug Power is a leader in solutions serving the hydrogen ecosystem, with over 40,000 fuel cell systems deployed, 110 charging stations deployed capable of distributing more than 40 tonnes of hydrogen per day. Plug Power is a technological leader in green hydrogen solutions by electrolysis. With HYVIA, we are bringing hydrogen mobility to France and Europe.”

David Holderbach, CEO HYVIA, comments, “Renault has been a hydrogen pioneer since 2014 with more than a hundred light commercial vehicles on the road. We are excited to join forces with Plug Power with its integrated solutions approach towards green hydrogen. HYVIA is now opening a new path towards decarbonation with a complete offering of hydrogen solutions. HYVIA builds on the complementary skills of Renault Group and Plug Power and will target a 30% marketshare in hydrogen powered light commercial vehicles in Europe by 2030.”

Plug Power has deployed over 40,000 fuel cell systems, designed, and built 110 refueling stations that dispense more than 40 tons of hydrogen daily, and is a technology leader in green hydrogen solutions via electrolysis.

First rental e-scooters hit London’s streets for riders who pass safety test

First rental e-scooters hit London’s streets for riders who pass safety test

Lime has deployed 200 of its new Gen4 e-scooters across London, working with Transport for London (TfL) and London Councils to launch the UK’s largest for-hire e-scooter trial.

Lime, alongside TIER and DOTT, were last month announced as the winning e-scooter operators for London’s 12-month trial.

Riders will be able to locate and hire e-scooters via Lime’s app, but will need to scan their driving licence and successfully complete a virtual safety test before the vehicle can be unlocked.

Lime says the Gen4 scooter is built for safety. It includes modifications specified for the London trial including a maximum speed of 12.5 mph, nine high-visibility reflectors, puncture proof wheels, mountain-bike inspired suspension, always-on LED lights and a double kickstand for stability.

Hyper-sensitive geofencing technology will also ensure e-scooters are not used or parked outside of designated areas and parking bays, and swappable batteries, says Lime, also reduce the overall environmental impact of maintaining the fleet.

Lime also uses e-cargo bikes to make battery swaps rather than having to transport scooters to and from warehouses for charging.

Alan Clarke, Director, Policy & Government Affairs, for Northern Europe Lime said, “Lime loves London, and three years after launching our e-bikes in the capital, we’re so proud to be deploying our latest Gen4 e-scooters here too. Wherever we operate, safety is always our number one priority, which is why Lime continues to invest in industry leading software and hardware safeguards, such as highly accurate geofencing to control rider speed and behaviour, and on-vehicle technology which can detect pavement riding.”

He adds, “This tech is designed to make our scooters safer for our riders, other road users and pedestrians, helping to create a well-managed and responsibly used service that benefits riders and the cities they ride in. We’re proud to be serving London with another great transport option and can’t wait for Londoners to try it out for themselves!”

Greek island partners with VW in ambitious plan to decarbonise transport and energy

Greek island partners with VW in ambitious plan to decarbonise transport and energy

Volkswagen has supplied eight electric cars to the Greek island of Astypalea, marking an early milestone in an ambitious trial to decarbonise the island’s transport and energy systems. Through the initiative, the Greek government hopes to develop a blueprint that it expects to roll out across many of the country’s two hundred or so inhabited islands.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has made green energy a central plank of Greece’s post-pandemic recovery drive, attended the delivery ceremony along with VW Group CEO Herbert Diess.

“Astypalea will be a test bed for the green transition that is energy autonomous, and entirely powered by nature,” Mitsotakis said.

The first cars to arrive on the island will be used by the police, coast guard and at the local airport. They are the beginnings of a larger fleet aimed at replacing about 1,500 combustion-engine cars with electric models and reducing vehicles on the island, a popular tourist destination, by a third.

The island’s bus service will be replaced with a ride-sharing scheme and 200 electric cars will be available for locals and tourists to rent. There will be subsidies for the island’s 1,300 inhabitants to buy electric vehicles, bikes and chargers.

Astypalea, which extends over 100 square kilometres in the Aegean Sea, currently meets its energy demand almost entirely by diesel generators but is expected to replace a big part of that through a solar plant by 2023.

“Astypalea can become a blueprint for a rapid transformation, fostered by the close collaboration of governments and businesses,” Diess said in a statement.

Greece, which has relied on coal for decades, aims to close all but one of its coal-fired plants by 2023, as part of its drive to boost renewables and cut carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030.

The government plans to install a 3 megawatt-hour solar park and 7 mWh battery system on Astypalea by 2023 that will cover just over half of the island’s overall energy demand and be enough for all EV charging needs.

A second phase of the project could include adding wind turbines to handle more than 80 percent of power demand by 2026.

Although relatively small scale, Astypalea will serve as a test case both for VW and the Greek government, which is looking to transition energy systems on non-interconnected islands to greener power.

Of the roughly 1,500 vehicles now on the island, about a third are cars, and most of them are very old, said Maik Stephan, VW’s head of business development, who runs the Astypalea project.

The plan is to replace all of them with models such as the VW ID3 hatchback, ID4 crossver and electric Transporter vans, as well as the Seat MO eScooter.

By replacing aging fossil fuel-based generators, the government aims to cut energy costs by at least 25 percent, while reducing CO2 emissions from the island’s energy system by 50 percent in the first phase and 70 percent in the second phase.

Dutch transport companies order 50-ton hydrogen trucks

Dutch transport companies order 50-ton hydrogen trucks

US based Hyzon Motors, a leading global supplier of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell powered commercial vehicles, is to supply 20, 50-ton hydrogen trucks to Dutch transport companies Jan Bakker and Millenaar & van Schaik.

Hyzon expects to begin delivering vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2021, and to deliver the remaining trucks in 2022. The vehicles, HyMax 450 Tractors built on a class-8 DAF truck chassis, are expected to offer a range of up to 320 miles on a full charge with motor power up to 550 kW. Currently Hyzon is the only company in the world offering hydrogen trucks up to 50 ton gross vehicle weight, with its in-house high power fuel cell technology.

Hyzon expects to manufacture the trucks in its European facility near Groningen in the Netherlands, where orders are being taken for deliveries of Hyzon-branded commercial vehicles worldwide. The trucks have been purchased by Duurzaam Transport, a subsidiary of Jan Bakker, and H2 Transport, a subsidiary of Millenaar & van Schaik.

Jan Bakker and Millenaar & van Schaik both aim to convert their entire fleet to zero-emission vehicles. Jan Bakker is made up of 17 companies, operating in transport, energy, and agriculture. Millenaar & van Schaik is one of the largest asphalt transport companies in the Netherlands.

Craig Knight, Hyzon CEO, said, “We are excited to be engaging with transport and logistics organizations like Jan Bakker and Millenaar & van Schaik, to bring hydrogen fuel cell powered trucks to the Netherlands. These contracts further underline the interest in Hyzon’s products in the European market, where we have seen strong uptake in zero-emission heavy vehicles.”

UK construction company trials Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone flight

UK construction company trials Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone flight

UK drone technology developer sees.ai has teamed up with construction and infrastructure company Skanska in a live test of a remotely operated drone.

Last month, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granted sees.ai the country’s first approval to trial routine Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations in closed industrial and urban areas.

In the first resulting flight, the drone pilot was located in a central control room fifty miles from the residential development at Midenhurst in Surrey. During the flight the drone captured video and imagery of structural details on the site.

Long term the expectation is pilots working in a central control room without the need to physically see the drones would drive down costs and allow long distance surveys.

Once the system has been proven sees.ai is looking to deploy it at scale across UK infrastructure, energy networks, roads, railways and the emergency services.

CEO, John McKenna said, “The successful trials undertaken with Skanska are a major step forward in demonstrating the value of Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone technology.

“We are excited by the results of the trial and what they signal about the acceleration towards a future where drones fly autonomously at scale inside our industrial sites, suburbs and cities.”

Peter Cater, Development Manager, Skanska added, “We were invited to carry out these trials because of our use and knowledge of drone capability and we were very excited to be the first company in the construction industry to do this.

“The trials have benefited everyone involved; sees.ai get to test their equipment and remote use of the drones and we get access to accurate, real-time data on our construction activities which benefits us and our customer.

“Projects like this – at the forefront of innovation – go to show what an exciting industry construction is to be involved in.

“We are always looking for innovative ways of working, ways to be more sustainable so we can find better solutions for our customers. These trials are just one small part of our digital transformation journey.”

Audi charging hub concept largely independent of local grid capacity

Audi charging hub concept largely independent of local grid capacity

Audi is developing a concept to develop modular electric vehicle charging hubs incorporating second life batteries to reduce loads on the power grid. A pilot project, launching later in the year, will provide a practical test for a possible roll-out across Germany.

Each hub will comprise six self-contained charging “cubes”, each incorporating charging connections and storage batteries.

Audi says combined the batteries will offer 2.45 MWh of electricity, providing a charging output of up to 300 kW for each bay, but the whole assemblage will remain functional through a single 400-Volt hookup. Additional energy will be provided by solar panels on the roof.

Users will be able to book charging bays in advance and the system can accommodate both overnight charging at a relatively modest 11kW output or 300kW high power top up charging.

For instance, the hub will be able to provide enough energy to charge an Audi e-tron GT for up to 100 kilometres in about five minutes, and from nearly empty to 80 percent in just under 25 minutes under ideal conditions. The hubs will feature high end lounges for short stay users.

Audi says by leveraging recycled lithium-ion batteries and green energy generation, the modular concept provides flexibility and scalability while making it easier to select locations for the charging stations. The hub can be installed and adapted to the individual location quickly and independent of local network capacities.

Oliver Hoffmann, Audi’s Board Member for Technical Development says, “The charging hub embodies our aspiration for the electric era and highlights Audi’s commitment to Vorsprung durch Technik. A flexible high-performing charging park like this does not require much from the local electricity grid.”

New model suggests the economics of rural charging infrastructure can work

New model suggests the economics of rural charging infrastructure can work

The UK’s Connected Kerb is to install electric vehicle chargers to deliver sustainable, affordable and accessible charging infrastructure to hard-to-reach UK communities.

The “first-of-a-kind” scheme, in partnership with Kent County Council, offers a blueprint for local authorities across the UK, says Connected Kerb.

All income from the first phase of 40 chargers – which are being installed at sites in small communities across Kent, such as village halls, pavilions and car parks from this month – is to go to the local community or be used to support the rollout and maintenance of further chargers.

Installing public charging infrastructure outside of busy urban areas has traditionally been a challenge for the industry due to the lower grid capacity and fewer connections increasing upfront cost and lower footfall extending the return-on-investment period.

It is hoped that the Connected Kerb scheme will give local residents, businesses and visitors the chance to charge in small towns and villages across Kent, with each charger to provide a 7kW-22kW fast charge and contactless payment via the Connected Kerb app.

The chargers are designed to last at least 20 years, with the infrastructure itself located below ground with passive chargers that can be easily “switched on” by adding the above ground chargepoint to match consumer demand.

The chargers also feature additional smart capabilities that can facilitate air quality monitoring, parking management, CCTV, road sensors, 5G connection, autonomous vehicles, route planning and power demand forecasting.

The scheme has been financed from a variety of sources, receiving funding from the Kent Lane Rental Scheme, the Department for Transport, the parishes themselves and, for some locations, 75% of the costs were financed through the on-street residential chargepoint scheme.

Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, said that this project shows that the economics of installing EV charging in non-urban areas “is much more favourable than many believe,” adding, “it is vital that access to public charging is equitable across the entire country.”

Oxford Superhub sets blueprint for fast, convenient, omnipresent EV charging

Oxford Superhub sets blueprint for fast, convenient, omnipresent EV charging

Fastned, the Dutch electric vehicle fast charging company, has joined up with UK-based Pivot Power, Tesla Superchargers and Wenea, to build Europe’s most powerful EV charging Superhub in Oxford. The Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) will initially feature 38 fast and ultra-rapid chargers in a single site, with up to 10MW of power on site.

It is the first of up to 40 similar sites planned across the UK, with the Oxford site due to open towards the end of this year.

ESO is set to be one of the largest charging stations in Fastned’s pan-European network. Tesla will operate 12 dedicated 250kW Superchargers. Spain’s Wenea, one of the largest EV charging services providers in Europe, will run 16 fast charging points offering outputs in the range 7-22kW.

The site is directly connected to the high voltage national electricity grid, to provide the power needed to charge potentially hundreds of EVs at the same time quickly, without putting strain on the local electricity network or requiring costly upgrades.

The network connection, developed by Pivot Power, has capacity to expand to key locations throughout Oxford to meet mass EV charging needs, from buses and taxis to commercial fleets.

Fastned’s goal is to build a network of 1,000 fast charging stations across Europe by 2025.

Michiel Langezaal, CEO of Fastned says, “Our mission is to accelerate the transition towards electric mobility by giving freedom to electric drivers. EV drivers experience this freedom when they know that fast and convenient charging is omnipresent. The Oxford Superhub is a great milestone towards that goal. We need hundreds more and will therefore continue to engage with landowners and partners such as Pivot Power. Big stations are the only way to provide charging capacity to the exponentially growing number of EVs coming to our roads.”

Matt Allen, CEO at Pivot Power, adds, “Our goal is to help the UK accelerate net zero by delivering power where it is needed to support the EV and renewable energy revolution. Oxford is one of 40 sites we are developing across the UK, combining up to 2GW of battery storage with high volume power connections for mass EV charging. Energy Superhub Oxford is a blueprint for what we want to replicate right across the country.”

UK energy regulator kick starts market in EV infrastructure grid connections

UK energy regulator kick starts market in EV infrastructure grid connections

The UK’s energy regulator Ofgem is investing £300 million to kick start investment in the cabling, substations and other infrastructure needed to support the country’s EV charging sector.

The investment will support installation of 1,800 ultra-rapid charge points at motorway service areas and key trunk road locations, tripling the current network. A further 1,750 charge points will be supported in towns and cities.

The investment will be delivered in the next two years and is part of a much bigger plan to provide the energy infrastructure needed to support the move to low carbon transport and heating, an investment expected to be in the order of over £40 billion through Ofgem’s regulation of energy networks.

According to Ofgem, every region in Britain will benefit from the announcement, with 204 net zero projects worth £300 million across England, Scotland and Wales, expected to start this year, supporting clean transport and heat, and opening up local electricity grids to take on more low carbon generation.

While electric car ownership is on the rise, Ofgem research has found that 36% of households that do not intend to get an electric vehicle are put off making the switch over a lack of charging points near their home. An extensive motorway charging network and more charging points in cities and train stations will help address concerns over range anxiety, so Ofgem is accelerating investment to boost charge point installation.

Cities like Glasgow, Kirkwall, Warrington, Llandudno, York and Truro will benefit from increased network capacity to support more ultra-rapid charge points, increased renewable electricity generation and the move to more electric heating for homes and businesses. Investment also covers more rural areas with charging points for commuters at train stations in North and Mid Wales and the electrification of the Windermere ferry.

Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem said, “This £300 million down payment is just the start of building back a greener energy network which will see well over £40 billion of investment in Britain’s energy networks in the next seven years.

“The payment will support the rapid take up of electric vehicles which will be vital if Britain is to hit its climate change targets. Drivers need to be confident that they can charge their car quickly when they need to.

Rachel Maclean, Transport Minister said, “With more than 500,000 electric cars now on UK roads, this will help to increase this number even further as drivers continue to make the switch to cleaner, greener vehicles.”

David Smith, chief executive at Energy Networks Association, which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses said, “Over £300m of electricity distribution network investment will enable wide-ranging projects that help tackle some of our biggest net zero challenges, like electric vehicle range anxiety and the decarbonisation of heavier transport.

“This new funding shows the social, economic and environmental benefits that can be brought forward by industry working closely with a flexible regulator.”

Keith Bell, Member of the Climate Change Committee, said, “It will be an essential complement to a smarter power system where innovative information technology and attractive energy tariffs for consumers will ensure we make best use of our electricity system infrastructure.”

Ofgem, the Energy Networks Association and each of the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) launched a call for evidence in February for energy networks to come forward with projects that could help Britain reach net zero emissions faster and support the economy as the country comes out of the pandemic.

Last year, Ofgem announced its greenest ever price control with billions invested into network companies and the system operator from April this year. The regulator has also indicated that it will allow billions more investment and better use of flexible technologies and innovations for the local electricity networks from 2023.