Top 5 Happy Eco News – November 4-10, 2018
1) Missouri engineers could make charging an electric car as fast as filling a gas tank
One of the biggest limitations of the transition to fully electric vehicles is the relatively long time it takes to charge the batteries compared to refuelling a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle. The US Department of Energy, in combination with LG Chemicals have allocated $2.9 million to develop a fast charging system that would recharge an EV battery as quickly as refuelling an internal combustion vehicle. Currently the fastest available technology is the Tesla Supercharger, which takes an hour to fully charge a car and allows the driver time to take a rest break and/or eat a meal.
2) Nio builds a battery swap station right next to a Tesla Supercharger
Known as the Tesla of China, technology start up Nio is promoting the idea of battery swap stations rather than fast charging. This model allows the use of current battery technology and puts less strain on the local grid infrastructure while allowing the driver to “refuel” as quickly as with an internal combustion engine and fossil fuel. The downside is the fact that the battery is a very important and expensive component of the vehicle. Nio proposes a lease model whereby the battery is leased rather than owned, so the vehicle operator is simply paying to have the electricity they need when they need it, as opposed to buying the battery outright. Nio is aggressively pursuing this concept as it places battery swap stations next to the Tesla branded supercharger stations in China locations.
3) Miami just broke ground on a new, High Line-inspired 10-mile park under its train tracks
Similar to the High Line in New York, the Underline in Miami will offer people a safe, clean and social way to explore the city. The Underline combines green public space with paths that connect to transit stations and is fully separated from the adjacent street, where 100,000 cars drive by each day. While it is not a very large city by US standards, Miami is known as a dangerous place for driving, being a pedestrian and for crime. Thus in order to get people to actually use the Underline and feel safe, there was an extensive public consultation, of which many suggestions from taxpayers and stakeholders were incorporated. This has resulted in significant buy in from locals and promises to make the Underline park a big success.
4) Tesla Delivers Powerpack to Scottish Tidal Power Station
Tesla has delivered a new Powerpack system to Nova Innovation’s tidal power station in Scotland which makes it the “the world’s first grid-connected ‘baseload’ tidal power station.” The Nova Innovation site uses underwater turbines to produce electricity from the energy of tides. Tides are extremely predictable but they don’t produce energy all day. Similar to the model of combining energy storage with wind or solar, excess energy from the tides can be delivered when the turbines aren’t producing, making for a much more attractive return on investment for the power company and more reliable power for the consumers.
5) All short-haul flights from Norway could be electric by 2040
As battery technology surges ahead in performance and lifespan, the prospect of EV aeroplanes is now becoming reality. Avinor, Norway’s major airport infrastructure operator, is aiming for 100% of short-haul flights to be fully electric by 2040 and running test flights on key routes as early as 2025. Focussed on flights of about 1.5 hours in or less, EV planes would cover almost all domestic routes as well as flights to nearby locations like Copenhagen or Stockholm. Norway produces a surplus of electrical energy from renewable sources such as tidal and river power therefore the costs associated with the transition would be largely covered by the reduction in jet fuel costs. The use of EV planes in shorter routes is ideal due to the intense power requirements during take off providing significant reduction in emissions during this time. Development, knowledge and experience in shorter routes will likely lead to the use of battery hybrids for longer routes, possibly using biofuels with the end goal of low emissions air travel for long haul global travel.