While we’re at the beginning of the electric vehicle revolution, there’s already a great deal of activity planning the next phase of innovations to support EVs and their drivers. From commercial developers to academic researchers to backyard enthusiasts, many great minds are working to bolster EVs as a low-carbon transportation solution and ensure a smooth ride on the market transformation highway.
At TAF, we are always seeking out new ideas and new champions who are developing the innovative tools to help drive down local emissions. For example, more than four years ago, we worked with Hymotion/A123 Systems, several public and private fleets and the University of Toronto to pilot test plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Through a combination of grants and investments, we collected important data that is now helping us to deploy hundreds of battery electric vehicles through our FleetWise EV300 Initiative.
Some interesting ideas are already coming our way. There’s vehicle-to-grid interactions where EVs store off-peak energy at night and help smooth out on-peak demand during the day by giving some electrons back to the grid. This will be dependent on smart grid capabilities as well as technical requirements on the part of the vehicles. However, Canada’s own Rapid Electric Vehicles is already working on this.
There’s also a bit of buzz around inductive charging for EVs where vehicles can charge wireless simply by parking over top an inductive charger embedded in the parking spot. While there’s plenty of work to be done on deploying conventional charge stations, could wireless charging provide a more streamlined solution for fleets or home charging by removing unnecessary cables?
How about the early-stage drivers who are bound to disregard the vehicle interface and run out of power before they get to a charge station? Both the Japan Automobile Federation and the American Automobile Association will be pilot testing mobile charging units in the coming months. I’m sure the Canadian Automobile Association will be watching and learning from their experiences.
Energy storage is an increasingly important area of focus as utilities work to protect the grid and smooth out energy demand as more EVs hit the roads. Recently, I read about the projected growth of grid-tied energy storage companies eagerly anticipating the increased market penetration of EVs. Locally, Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Energy is studying fly-wheel storage technologies along with other urban grid solutions for EV infrastructure.
So, what are you hearing about these days? What’s next? Where should we be looking? Who should we be talking to?