Once we had rows of ugly stalks along the roadside that took your coins for parking - or more often failed to take your coins for parking. Unloved, they have now largely gone and no one mourns their passing. Unfortunately, in place of them we have an increase in ugly electric car charging stations; fewer but larger. All too often, they do not work either because they are broken or have the wrong payment methods or interfaces. The good news is that they will soon be gone too. As Baroness Kramer said when a UK Minister of Technology a few years ago, "We badly need roadside charging stations to roll out EVs but in ten years EV range will be so great that we shall not need them."
In fact, she was only describing a part of the full scenario of "Goodbye Charging Stations". Immediately we have elegant charging from lamp posts - absolutely no ugliness, obscuration or grabbing of real estate. Indeed, some lamp posts are rendered energy independent by solar panels and wind turbines on top so here is a route to greener charging too.
Following invisible lamp post chargers, we have the very beginning of a move to the end game energy independent electric vehicles (EIV) that never need electricity from outside, not even at origin or destination. They create all the electricity they need from "free" ambient energy such as sun and wind.
The ideal targets for energy independence of vehicles on land are ones that are little used so there is a long period of charging with sun and wind, vehicles that do not take much power and ones that have space to expand their solar panels when parked, preferably in a windy area so their erecting wind turbines or tethered Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) drones grab plenty of power. If they operate in sunny areas then so much the better. In fact, so abundant are these sources of ambient energy that no one is yet doing all or even most of this with one vehicle yet commercial roadworthy EIVs are promised within three years. See the IDTechEx Research report, Energy Independent Electric Vehicles Land, Water, Air 2017-2037.
Raghu Das, Chief Executive of analysts IDTechEx, is leading awareness of this new end game for vehicles by land water and air. He says, "People ask us which company reveals the world after Tesla, currently the Apple of automotive. We say Hanergy of China has a good claim to this. In 2016 it demonstrated a range of working cars that run fast just on satellite grade solar bodywork that expands during parking. They have a roadmap to creating ten times the energy of a typical solar roof by unfolding and by efficiency improvement to over 41% by 2025. They plan first energy independent cars to be on sale in 2020. Yes the cars would cost about a million dollars each today if made that way but people rude about Chinese cost reduction tend to have to eat their words. Those remarking that Hanergy as a company has had problems miss the point. If they do not do it, they have still shown the roadmap necessary. Some of their vehicles have the panels expand to the ground front and back when parked and others expand them like petals. The GaAs technology is so thin and efficient that they have even used it in the vehicle as part of the structural electronics of the dashboard, powering internal electrics. Imagine what will be possible when you add other harvesting, new internal regeneration, lightweighting and aerodynamics to those concepts!"
Das is at pains to point out that it is not all about solar, though Tesla has said its vehicle bodywork will be solar- part of the move to structural electronics instead of the nostalgic components-in-a-box approach to electrics and electronics of its slower competitors. See the IDTechEx Research report, Structural Electronics 2017-2027: Applications, Technologies, Forecasts. Toyota has said it dreams of cars working on sunshine but it has recently patented erecting wind turbines for parked road vehicles. The system comprises of wind turbine, an air inlet, air channels, an air outlet and a generator that converts the kinetic energy to electric power to be stored in the battery. The mini rotors, "could generate enough energy to power integral and auxiliary systems such as air conditioning", says the company. IFEVS in Italy thinks its ultra-efficient shaftless wind turbine arrays for road vehicles will be generating up to 700 watts. On ships and boats wind turbines already produce large amounts of electricity from cross winds even while going along. See the IDTechEx Research reports, Electric Boats and Ships 2017-2027 and Electric Vehicle Energy Harvesting/ Regeneration 2017-2037.
It is time for the world's first conference on the subject. IDTechEx is staging the world's first conference on Energy Independent Electric Vehicles 27-28 September at the Technical University of Delft, Netherlands, where the most advanced solar racing cars and boats are made. Toyota is a keynote speaker on "Toyota Progress towards Energy Independence". Fiat Central Research former Director Professor Pietro Perlo, now president of IFEVS reveals, "The Path Towards more and more Energy Independent Fully Electric Vehicles: Examples of Safe-Secure-Efficient Road, Air And Water Vehicles".
To make it well worth the trip, there are six optional masterclasses on the subject on the day before and day after and a small exhibition. On 26 Sept the masterclasses are, "Introduction to Energy Independent Electric Vehicles EIV", "Energy Harvesting and Electrical Regeneration for Boats, Ships, AUV" and, "Energy Harvesting and Electrical Regeneration for Land Vehicles and Aircraft". On 29 Sept, the masterclasses are, "Extreme Lightweighting Including Materials, Structural Electronics/Electrics, Wireless Systems", "Energy Storage for EIVs: Battery, Supercapacitor, Hybrid Supercapacitor" and, "Electric Vehicles: Materials, Components, Trends, Opportunities - Land, Water, Air".
Much of the relevant basic research carried out at TU Delft and elsewhere will be presented at the event including advanced vehicle photovoltaics and Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) needed to make ships energy independent. Think tethered kites and drones generating 100kW to 1MW at the altitude where the wind is consistent and four times more powerful.
Top image: FleetCarma