Entries with tag nissan .

Clever Charging of Electric Powered Transport - significant funding on offer for ideas to connect up solutions for future transport

TransportKTN is helping promote the currently open TSB competition Localised energy systems - a cross-sector approach, which is to invest up to £11m in a programme of collaborative research and development to stimulate innovation in localised energy systems.

Up to £9.5m is available from the Technology Strategy Board (for business-led solutions) and up to a further £1.5m is available from EPSRC to support academic partners contributing to the energy sector aspects of projects. 

Details of the competition, information day and networking events included in the Energy Efficiency section of Transport KTN's site, and we wish to draw your attention to the short notice required to register for Localised Energy Systems Competition Briefing & Consortium Building event at SS Great Britain on Thursday 30 January.

Further background and case studies will be on offer at the event next week; expect to see TSB and EPSRC highlight opportunities for businesses to develop new products, services, and solutions in and across the energy, built environment, transport and digital sectors.


Smart energy systems to UK companies will be worth £3-5bn by 2020

Citing surveys by Navigant and Bloomberg, TSB suggests that the market for smart energy systems to UK companies will be worth £3-5bn by 2020 and that the growth rate in the UK is 10% and in the EU 30%.

The scope of the competition is pretty broad, as the TSB want to encourage solutions that bring disparate buildings and energy users together to benefit from shared energy infrastructure and services.  

Projects that focus on individual technology development alone or projects that focus on energy efficiency measures for buildings or individual building management systems technologies are out of scope of the competition, as these are covered through the TSB low impact buildings programme. 


Where can transport fit into the competition?

The obvious areas where our constituency can input into the competition could be in rail or electric vehicles solutions for balancing electric vehicle demands on the grid.

With imagination, solutions may also emerge from the power supply side, as issues affecting transport and the grid become more related.


My Electric Avenue - testing an EV charge control system to balance out the charging cycles

The market for electric vehicles is growing fast in percentage terms but from a minuscule base, so predicting demand for energy use of such vehicles, with decades long lead times the norm for electricity infrastructure is a headache for both the demand and supply side.

A subsidiary of the power company SSE and Ofgem are currently testing a proposed method for mitigating the impact of concentrated charging requirements in small areas due to electric vehicles.

The My Electric Avenue is led by EA Technology and Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD). Together with other partners under the Ofgem Low Carbon Networks (LCN) funded project is testing an EV charge control system to balance out the charging cycles of EVs at times of network stress.

Seven clusters are so far taking part in ‘Technical Trials’ as announced in November 2013, in Chiswick, Marlow, South Gosforth, South Shields, Wylam, Chineham and Whiteley.

My Electric Avenue's Social Trials programme offers participants in confined localities to lease a new 100% electric Nissan LEAF at a negotiated rate for 18 months in return for the data on usage and how it pressurises neighbourhood supplies of electricity. 

EA Technology's monitoring and control technology is claimed to delay, and in some cases avoid, the need for additional electrical infrastructure - which would be costly and disruptive, as well as taking significant time - to accommodate the forecast increase demand from Electric Vehicles.

The My Electric Avenue website says there's been no other UK trials to address the issue of future network overload.

South Electric Power Distribution (SEPD), as announced this week, has also been awarded £8.3m in funding from Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund for its Solent Achieving Value from Efficiency (SAVE) project.

The Solent-based project will be led by SEPD and partners at the University of Southampton, DNV GL and Wireless Maingate, focusing on new energy efficiency technologies to local domestic customers to trial in their homes, as well as incentives for making long-term changes to their energy usage behaviour.


The secret's in the Black Box

The incumbent electrical distribution companies may consider the potential for sudden increased demand from EVs a concern, but low carbon vehicles are a natural fit for the upstarts in the green energy sector. The marketing potential of bringing on board EV owners into the fold is likely to add to their appeal, that has mostly been based on appeal of the source of their supply.

It makes sense to reinforce the connection.

Indeed, Ecotricity, the largest in this sector, announced that last year that they will be launching a promotional tie-in with Volkswagen to promote renewable electricity supply to owners of Volkswagen's soon-to-be-launched e-up! city car, with orders being taken in November and the first deliveries announced for this month.

Ecotricity has also helped with EV infrastructure with its Ecotricity Electric Highway, a national network of charge points – making it easier for electric vehicle owners to make long distance journeys.

On it's website, Ecotricity also provides some details (and some teasers) about what it calls its Eco Lab... "And so we have our Eco Lab – the place where we research and develop new ideas for the production and use of Energy – in the three big sectors. Projects include the Nemesis (a wind powered supercar), Ion Horse (an electric bike) and Greenbird (a wind powered land speed attempt) - plus technology for generating electricity such as the Urbine (a vertical axis turbine) and the Snapper (a collaborative project in wave technology).

There's also something named the Black Box – which is, apparently, "a very smart idea that could change the way we use energy and the way the grid works."

The project page merely shows a graphic of a black box, and a teaser with no more detail that saying it's "a research project that has the potential to change the way we use electricity".


Disrupting the 'big six'

Ecotricity was this week named equal first supplier in the annual Which? energy company survey of consumer satisfaction.

The consumer magazine said the Gloucestershire-based firm was also one of only two energy companies to improve their score compared to last year, as consumer satisfaction across the industry plummeted and the Big Six yet again fared worse than the smaller suppliers.

The joint top spot is held (for a third year running) by another sustainable electricity supplier Good Energy, based in Chippenham.

Good Energy was founded by Juliet Davenport in 2003, originally to make a difference to climate change, but has evolved as a company to "create a blueprint...for the UK to disrupt the energy system ... by creating a marketplace that can support local generators delivering to local customers".

Disruption will be pushing against against an open door as far as consumers are concerned as Which? also said that its latest consumer satisfaction survey of energy companies is one of the lowest average scores for consumer satisfaction out of all the satisfaction surveys across its range of products and sectors it covers.


Electric Vehicles and the grid, there's a connection

With an even greater crisis in its electricity supply infrastructure, unsurprisingly perhaps, Japanese car makers are taking a lead in thinking about making best use of their customers' hard earned electrons.


Nissan Leaf - EVs as power sources for living

As the leading supplier of family sized electric cars, in 2011 Nissan described publicised its “Vehicle to Home” system, that allows Leaf owners to reverse the polarity, to supply a home with the energy stored in a Nissan LEAF’s battery.

"By charging up a Nissan LEAF at night when there is more capacity for electrical supply and then using that electricity as the daytime power source for a household, the system helps alleviate consumption of power in peak periods when demand is highest. Further, it can also be leveraged as backup power supply for emergencies."

Household power can be supplied from a Nissan LEAF lithium-ion battery by installing a proprietary PCS (Power Control System) connected to the household’s distribution board, while plugged into the Nissan LEAF DC quick charge port. Further, through the PCS, a Nissan LEAF vehicle can also be charged from the household power supply.

The image shows the EV Power Station PCS made by Nichicon Corporation
The image shows the EV Power Station PCS made by Nichicon Corporation

To use the electricity stored in the Nissan LEAF lithium-ion battery as household power it is necessary to convert the DC high-voltage electricity to 200V AC. When charging the Nissan LEAF battery it is then necessary to convert 200V AC electricity to DC high-voltage power. The PCS handles the electrical conversion and control of the amount of power supply. Nissan claims the LEAF EV lithium-ion battery has large enough capacity and reliability, enough to provide a stable power supply.


Toyota's Smart Grid vision

With the Prius, and now the Auris models, Toyota is the leading manufacturer of hybrid electric cars worldwide. Recently it announced that its FCV fuel cell vehicle that made its debut appearance at the Tokyo Motor Show in November 2013, will go on sale next year. The Toyota FCV hydrogen fuel cell hybrid shown off at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this month, promoted as having the duel benefit of a zero Carbon emission maximum range of 300 miles and the possibility of powering, by itself, a normal home - and for longer than the power supply interruptions experienced due to the storms knocking out power lines in parts of the UK over Christmas.

In addition to a 300 miles range on a single fill-up of hydrogen, the FCV has a zero to 62mph time of around 10 seconds and a top speed of 100mph – in other words, it’s a regular car, except for the fact that it emits only water when driving.

Better still, said Toyota at CES, it could provide an answer to keeping the lights on when power cuts strike, as its electric motor can produce more than 100kW and, with a full tank of hydrogen fuel, could generate enough energy to power a regular home for a week.

The company said that engineers are currently researching an external power supply device that could be used with the car to provide a safe and simple domestic connection.

Toyota has also developed a concept it calls the Smart Grid as "wider use of environment-friendly, next generation vehicles is essential for the realization of a low-carbon society, but on the other hand, proper control of the infrastructure associated with power demand of vehicle recharging is also necessary."

What is the Toyota Smart Center?

Toyota's vision for control of the car charging infrastructure is one built around smart IT systems that considers the car as one aspect of the consumer's lifestyle, encompassing smart use of all uses of energy in the home, that is also a part of a larger community of similarly equipped smart homes. Its Smart Center concept therefore links homes, vehicles, electric power companies and users to enable integrated control of energy consumption.

The system also takes account Home Energy Management System (HEMS) that, they predict, will commonly control home electricity supply/demand, the electricity supplied by the power company, as well as the electricity generated by the houses, thus making external control possible.
Toyota said the system "collates information transmitted from a household-linked PHV or EV regarding remaining vehicle battery charge, household power consumption information transmitted by the HEMS, weather forecast data and charge-rate information for specific time segments from the power company. Thereby coordinating vehicle recharging and household energy consumption with an aim to minimise CO2 emissions and reduce electricity costs."
"With a smart phone, users will be able to remotely monitor and adjust home power usage, control the air conditioning and hot water supply."

A smart house, as Toyota envision it, is also expected to have the capability of efficiently controlling generated solar energy and power consumption making it ideal for vehicle power supply and management.

Will smart metering lead to smarter grids?

So, it's foreseeable that a smart mix of technologies are likely to be required to mitigate predicted demand stresses on the UK's power infrastructure due to electric vehicles and other increased demands.

But what if we could turn the problem around, from thinking of battery powered vehicles being necessarily a drain on demand into an opportunity to enhance the resilience of the grid?

Could the electric vehicle offer win-win scenarios for consumers as well as electricity suppliers?

Steven Harris - architect and entrepreneur - is promoting such imaginative solutions, through his company Energence, as well as blogging on the issue for Energy Saving Trust.

Steven was Technical Director of the architectural practice ZEDfactory, which built the multi-award winning Zero Carbon Development BedZED in 2000 and a contributing author of ‘The ZED book’. He was also a Senior Lecturer in Environment and Energy at the University of East London School of Architecture.

He and his wife live in a zero-carbon family house they designed and built themselves.

Energence offers smart metering for monitoring the output of domestic and commercial solar photo-voltaic installations, critical for selling electricity back to energy companies under the Government's Feed in Tarrif (FIT). But Steven's vision is enable trading of excess electricity, and not necessarily just from, strictly, renewable local generation.

The FIT scheme is designed encourage the growth of the renewable energy supply industry, but the mechanisms are almost entirely financial and crudely implemented technically.

In fact the FIT, somewhat bizarrely, pays for the amount of electricity generated regardless of how much is exported to the grid. So it could be said the FIT systems encourages unnecessary usage of this energy, as it's free to use for the producer. Steven's suggestion is to instead extract more value from local generation by, instead of unnecessarily usage, to use it is charging batteries, which in the car could be used for travel, but alternatively could, if the right smart meter were commercialised, be sold (exported to the grid) at a premium price at times of peak demand.

This may at first glance seem an abuse of the FIT system, but what is proposed is strictly a commercial relationship between consumer and electricity supplier, outside the FIT scheme.

A consumer/producer could, potentially, charge form whatever source so long as it is cheap enough during an off-peak period; stores the energy efficiently enough; and exports or sells it back to the grid at a premium.

It would all depend on the marginal profit on offer, after energy losses are factored in.

But the effect could be the consumer wins by making a marginal profit off their car battery and the power companies win by having a more resilient network, with greater reserves at peak times, and perhaps save the cost of building another Dinorwig.

The problem with the idea is that it's currently impossible. Not because of a technical barrier but because there's no business case in the UK to encourage it, since no mechanism for exporting "non-renewable" sourced electricity is offered.

According to Steven, "I see such a market, if it could be set up, as functioning as a 'load balancing' for the supply network."

Google might be thinking of doing something having just bought Nest for $3.2BN

"There's a lot going on this area. The Swiss company Tritec sells a solar power storage solutions as 'the next big step towards an independent energy supply' but they don't market their products in the UK."

"Others are wondering what Google might be thinking of doing something having just bought Nest (the smart home energy regulating company) for $3.2BN."

"I can see such a domestic power export system being managed by a smart phone app - perhaps and extension of energy management apps as offered by companies like Tigo Energy."


Investments in smart grid infrastructure in the next decade expected to reach $274.9billion

If and when smart metering becomes commonplace and the consequences accepted, such a market could follow as a natural add-on feature.

According to a blog post on smart metering by Gary Hartley for the Energy Saving More than two thirds of those polled in a recent Accenture study were convinced of the benefits of smart grids, coupled with smart meters in homes and businesses will exceed all industry expectations in terms of customer service, reliability, and the ability to fix problems.

A separate study of emerging markets suggests that 45 countries, including India and China, are to invest $274.9billion in smart grid infrastructure in the next decade – and outperforming developed countries along the way. An "astonishing 523 million smart meters are projected to be installed in these nations by 2023. Certainly some food for thought – and hefty competition – for Europe and America".


"Me and my clever home: an everyday story of the future"

Perhaps more in a spirit of Grand Designs than everyday consumer plug-in solution, Steven Harris's personal vision of a smart home in his Energy Saving Trust blog, starts from the position, "I’m so bored with the term ‘Smart home’ – I’d much rather my home were clever!"

"It would communicate with whoever I traded energy with, telling them how much I bought and sold and when. It would keep track of my energy accounts ledger, recording how much I sold the energy for, and what I bought it in for."

"My energy storage could be a set of second-use (or, as I think they call it, pre-loved) electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Let me explain why this is such a good idea."

"The trouble with EV batteries is that they cost so much (£30,000, for goodness sake!), and their practical life in an EV is only four years or so (gulp!). This means that they have to be leased to drivers rather than sold outright, and even the leasing cost is high."

When an EV battery starts getting old, it may operate at 80% of its useful storage capacity, and may become slightly absentminded in reporting its stored power. While this is a problem in an EV, as it could get you stuck on the roadside, in a non-critical job where all it’s doing is squirreling away some cheap-rate electricity, it would be fine. Being non-critical would also allow the battery management software to protect the health of the battery rather than prioritising range and amenity, as it needs to do in an EV. Installed in a house, the batteries might last many more years."

"That’s what I call clever!"


The Localised Energy Systems competition process

The Localised Energy Systems - A cross-Sector Approach competition represents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to develop new products, services, and solutions in and across the energy, built environment, transport and digital sectors,

Funding will mainly be for industrial research projects in which a business partner will generally attract up to 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs).  Projects that include cross-sector working will be considered favourably.  Expected projects to range in size from total costs of £200k to £2m, although projects outside this range may be considered.

This is a two-stage competition that opens for applicants on 20 January 2014. The deadline for registration is at noon on 12 March 2014 and the deadline for expressions of interest is at noon on 19 March 2014

A briefing event for potential applicants will be held in Bristol - at the SS Great Britain - on Thursday 30 January 2014

To receive more information about the application process for this competition please complete TSB's online form.

A more detailed briefing can be seen on TSB's Localised energy systems - a cross-sector approach competition page.

Intelligently connecting the electric car with the grid and other modes of transport

As electric vehicle manufacturers are required to introducing new concepts for driving, and mobility, to the market, a more holistical approach is merging.

Instead of selling an open road, top gear, fantasy, practicalities of how potential buyers make day to day use of their vehicles is coming to the fore, as well as how they fit into our environment and other modes fo transport. 

Nissan and Toyota, for instance, are taking a lead in thinking about how the electric car connects up with other uses of electricity in the home, while BMW (in its Flexible Mobility concept) has previewed an intention to connect, via in board or smartphone Apps, its i electric models with another modes of travel in order to complete journeys.


BMW i3 Test drive follow-up sales call

Following up my test drive of the new BMWi3 Electric in November, this morning I received the traditional CRM prompted sales call from Ian at Chandlers BMW in Portslade.

His CRM, or whatever system they use, hadn't connected with my post test drive comments directed to them visa Twitter (see below) - but I registered my feedback saying I see nothing much wrong with the car or concept but I do for the cost of (any) new car for my amount of usage.

I'd need to be making regular journeys to balance out the finance costs with the increased efficiency compared to my entirely reliable (cross-fingers) 19 year old Mazda.




A week or so before the call, I also received a letter from Uwe Dreher, BMW UK's Marketing Director, with a broacher explaining BMW's 360° ELECTRIC, which is a 'suite of products and services designed to assist BMW i owners with every aspect of going electric, such as access to another BMW or a mini for longer journeys.

BMW's ChargeNow network is said to offer access to a nationwide Pay-as-you go charging network (for an extra £20). The on board navigation systems as well as the BMW i App available on the Apple App store and Google Play store help navigate to these charging points.

Strangely for a smooth operation such as BMW, the app links don't quite seem to be joined up here.

BMW's Apps page doesn't include it's i App. Nor is it included in its Connected Drive Services & Apps page.

The i bit is rather partitioned off within the BMW i section of its site, perhaps as the company may prefer to feature its own, built-in BMW ConnectedDrive connectivity and App platform.

A handy feature Something that BMW offers for the smart phone user that built-in Apps can't is provided by the BMW i Remote App - that check's the battery and charging status remotely.


Flexible mobility

Also part of 360° ELECTRIC is BMW Access, occasional access to other BMW vehicles is provided to cater for long distance journeys.

According to my local salesman Ian, the service will be provided by Thrify Car Rental exlsuviekly using BMW vehicles and the the economies of the package will suit the BMW i owner requiring another vehicle on a regular basis, rather than the occasional hire such as for holidays out of convenient range for the i3.

The Brochure intriguingly suggests some future joined-up, or Intelligently mobile, thinking, saying, "In the future, public transportation will be available within your car for any instances you wish to link up with another mode of travel in order to complete your journey".

That will be something to keep an eye on.


The 100,000th Nissan LEAF Owner keeping appointments from Hampshire to Surrey

Nissan are keeping an eye on who buys their electric cars, last week announcing that British dentist Dr. Brett Garner as the 100,000th customer of the 100%-electric Nissan LEAF globally.

He and his wife, who run a dental practice in Fareham, picked up their new LEAF at the Martins Nissan dealership in Winchester.

“I have chosen my Nissan LEAF because I am very interested in its running costs,” Dr. Garner said.

“The cost of ownership, such as maintenance, insurance and charging also convinced my wife. She had the experience of driving 500 miles in a borrowed LEAF and the low cost was remarkable, so she was converted and insisted that we have a LEAF.”

“The Nissan LEAF", he said, "is perfect for everyday commuting, and there is no problem with charging it. It is ideal for the family as it is quiet and not tiring even on longer journeys, because there is no vibration.”

Nissan said that its LEAF, the world’s first mass-produced zero emissions vehicle, remains the best-selling EV in history with a 45% market share and a record year for sales in 2013.

LCV2012 - Test Drive of the Nissan Leaf (and discussion) on the Millbrook Hill Road

Here's a video of Stefano Hoyland (of UKTI) test driving the 100% electric Nissan Leaf at the Millbrook prooving ground Hill Road circuit yesterday afternoon - the first day of the LCV2012 event. 


Our guide is Nissan Training's Martin White. I'm in the back holding a Canon Ixus not too steady. Apologies for the more than soft focus in the second half of this 18 minute movie but the quality isn't too bad. Click the image to view...

The ride in the back was firm, and Stefano seemed to enjoy the drive, I needed to hold on tight. I hope you'll find the discussion interesting - which includes the car's mechanics, acoustics of electric vehicles, and the barriers to adoption, such as price and range anxiety.
According to Martin, the Leaf is well within the scope of the regular range of most people's driving, but the psychological barrier remains a notional 200 mile range. He admits petrol heads may hate the idea but the Leaf seemed to have perfectly adequate performance on a circuit more challenging than the sternest of British roads.
With the number of charging points available, regenerative charging suited to congested roads (and zero congestion charge) this car is, however, best suited to city rather than rural driving. 
Nissan Leaf Test Drive

Two electric vehicle related podcasts to subscribe to...

Here's a couple of transport related podcasts that I've recently subscribed to, both available in iTunes and other channels, that might be of general interest...


Fully Charged

Fully Charged, sponsored by British Gas, is a weekly video podcast from the creator of 'Carpool,' Robert Llewellyn - better known for playing Kryten in the science fiction comedy Red Dwarf. The show "takes a look at the realities of using electric vehicles, looking behind the myths, seeking the truth about electric cars".

In the 11 July episode Robert checks out two car sharing schemes in Berlin, Germany 

Drive Now, allows smartphone users to spontaneously hire its fleet of BMWs, incluidng Minis, from €0.29 per minute.

Car2go  offers the same rate per minute for spontaneous hire, or €12.90 per hour or €39.00 a day. 

Talking to Robert, Andreas Leo, Corp Communications Manager for Car2go, said the company operates in 11 cities, has 100,000 customers with a fleet of 1000 Smart fortwo mhd two seater car cars, as they are “the perfect urban mobility vehicle; easy to drive and park - and are efficient and fun to drive.”

“The first 30km are included. A fee charge per kilometre after that applies, but this is an urban concept; 97% of Car2go journeys are within the 20km range.”

Car2go plan to incorporate electric vehicles into their fleet next year and more the year after, and to launch in the UK market, in Birmingham, in the third quarter of 2012.

After trying these car share schemes Robert concluded “Maybe we don’t need to own cars, maybe we could just use them - with all the car clubs, the modern technology and Apps - you can find the nearest car, drive it and leave it. It’s brilliant. It’s much more energy efficient when you think that at any one moment 90% of cars not being used, which is kind of waste resource.”


Transport Evolved

Transport Evolved is a weekly show which focuses on the world of electric vehicles, hybrids and alternative fuels. This show is sponsored by and

Hosted by auto journalist Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield and a "weekly panel from the world of green fuels, we chat about the week’s news, from new vehicle announcements to real-world tests, insurance and consumer advice".

The latest show is Episode 112 for 27 July on “As Old As The Car You Drive” features Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, Michael Thwaite and Mark Chatterley discussing news in the world of electric cars, including a test-drive of the 2012 Model S Sedan from Tesla, Nissan's response to battery life concerns, and the oldest Chevy Volt driver.

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