Opportunities for wireless charging to help fleets in the race to net zero

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It was impossible to miss the headlines on every front page when the IPCC delivered a code red for humanity this month.

But even before that, questions were already being raised about whether we as a country and planet are moving fast enough towards net-zero.

Companies are responding to this challenge through making net-zero commitments of their own which have significant impacts on fleet strategy.

Net Zero means No Diesel

In short, a net zero commitment means total replacement of current diesel fleets.

Fleet managers have to achieve this transition without compromising operations.

In the van segment, falling battery costs and improving model availability mean that the alternative fuel fleets are switching to will in most cases be electricity.

Once fleets take that decision, it’s vital they understand how operational requirements fit with available vehicles, chargers and site power availability in order to achieve the most cost effective and low risk transition.

In high utilisation applications like home delivery, construction and emergency vehicles, there are two main barriers that must be overcome to decarbonise fleets.

Time for charging. And space for infrastructure.

What Wireless Charging Offers

Wireless charging is a new EV charging technology that does away with the cables, wall boxes and posts that are part of current rapid and fast charging solutions.

Wireless charging uses focused magnetic fields to transfer charge between a ground mounted plate and a receiver mounted on the vehicle instead of via a plugged-in cable.

The technology offers the promise of faster vehicle turn-around times, opportunity charging whilst loading, reduced depot space requirements and even future proofing for autonomous vehicles where no driver will be around to plug vehicles in.

The technology has been developed and deployed in the bus market extensively in the United States where CHAdeMO standards dominate.

To date, almost no experience exists deploying the technology with vans where the early utilisation benefits may occur at scale.

Until now there was also a lack of a CCS compatible wireless charging system. This was a problem because most vehicles coming to market now use CCS because of the wider system integration benefits it offers.

A £1.6 million trial

Flexible Power Systems (FPS) is leading a £1.6 million demonstration project in partnership with The City of Edinburgh Council and Heriot-Watt University to understand the benefits wireless charging can offer fleets now and in future.

Initially, four modified Vauxhall Vivaro-e’s will take to the streets, fitted with a slim charging pad on the underside. To charge, they are simply parked above electric pads, and they’re topped up in under an hour with no need to plug in.

For the trial FPS have developed a first of its kind CCS/CHAdeMO interface for wireless chargers which allows the technology to be cost effectively trialled with fleets who wish to understand how wireless charging can benefit their operations.

The trial which formally starts this week will initially run for a period of 7 months. The objective is to collect data about the performance of wireless charging technology in an operational environment as well as understanding the benefits it can offer in the real world.

Funding for the trial is being provided by the UK Government’s Office for Low-Emission Vehicles through its innovation agency Innovate UK.

Flexible Power Systems is a technology company that helps companies reduce their transport emissions. FPS combines data analytics with technical and operational expertise to deliver unique decarbonisation solutions. https://www.flexpowersystems.com/

If you would like to learn more about wireless EV charging and the project, check out FPS Chief Engineer James Derby’s show and tell video, https://www.flexpowersystems.com/media-resources-video

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