Europe building greener technology for cleaner cars
Electric motive power was kick-started in the 19th century and scientists have been developing it ever since. The EDISON ('Electric vehicles in a distributed and integrated market using sustainable energy and open networks') project, which got off the ground in late February, is targeting the development of a smart infrastructure that will alter the extensive adoption of electric vehicles powered by sustainable energy.
EDISON will be instrumental in developing the infrastructure required for the large-scale roll-out of electric cars in Denmark, project partners say. A new and improved power infrastructure is needed because if everyone haphazardly plugs electric cars into the regional grid for recharging, major problems could erupt.
The researchers note the development of the infrastructure would enable electric vehicles to communicate intelligently with the power grid. This means that the times that charging can take place would be determined more efficiently. Danish officials have said that the charging times would be influenced by fluctuating power inputs to the grid from renewable energy sources, 'as well as a cumulative demand on the grid, at any point in time'.
A tenth of the Danish vehicles could be electric or hybrid electric in the near future thanks to the market introduction and investment plans being made in the Nordic state. Renewable energy sources already generate 20% of the country's power, experts note.
Decreasing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the field of transportation by maximising the use of renewable energy has potential, particularly as electric vehicles are equipped with smart technologies to control charging and billing, as well as guaranteeing the overall energy system.
For this study, the partners will carry out the work in three phases: research, technological development and demonstration. According to them, the demonstration will be held on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, the site of a large wind park. EDISON plans to match the wind-generated power on Bornholm with the power consumption of charging plug-in electric vehicles.
By conducting a field test on Bornholm, the researchers will be able to assess how the energy system functions as the number of electric vehicles grows. It should be noted that the studies will be based on simulation and will have no impact on the island's security of supply.
Denmark's Climate and Energy minister said electric vehicles are a technology that can be used to bring renewable energy into the transportation fold. 'That is why we are making it possible for electric cars to enter the market in order to replace conventional fuel,' remarked Connie Hedegaard. 'Projects like EDISON show how it's possible to create sustainable solutions in real life,' she added.
The EDISON consortium consists of the Danish utilities DONG Energy and Oestkraft, as well as the Technical University of Denmark, the Danish Energy Association, Siemens of Germany, EURISCO (which is based on a European network of ex situ National Inventories (NIs) that makes the European biodiversity data available everywhere in the world) and the US giant IBM, which announced its membership recently. Copenhagen is partly funding this project because of the environmental benefits to be gained from electric vehicle technologies.
'Denmark, the host of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change conference and the most energy-efficient country in the EU, further underscores its ambitions here with the EDISON project announcement,' explained Guido Bartels, head of IBM's Global Energy & Utilities Industry. 'There is already broad consensus that both wind energy and electric vehicles have enormous potential for a sustainable energy future. Bringing the two together promises to be a winning combination.'