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Compact hydro generator for electric vehicles charging stations (to serve as an energy lifebuoy)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - lif-E-Buoy (Compact hydro generator for electric vehicles charging stations (to serve as an energy lifebuoy))

Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2018-07-31

The concept of Smart Cities is to collect different types of data and sensor information that can be used to manage assets and resource efficiency better. To be able to do this, electricity is needed. Furthermore, in smart city initiatives, electrification of the personal vehicle, fleet and mass transit sectors is becoming an important factor. Electric vehicles (EVs) also require electricity.
Many charging stations are on-street facilities provided by electric utility companies or located at retail shopping centres and operated by many private companies. There are many research projects on EV charging using clean energy sources and a few of them has already reached the business stage (detailed later).
The lif-E-Buoy project is a facility using the hydrokinetic energy of running water as a clean energy source for charging of electrical road vehicles (cars, bicycles, etc.) and provide noise and emission free electricity output for other applications such as large cruiser boats or for freight vessels stopping in city centres as a good alternative to running their generators.
lif-E-Buoy is a lifebuoy for electric vehicles.
Willisits Engineering Ltd. (WILLISITS) was established in 2009 to develop world-class electric vehicle drive systems and other innovative technologies. A few years ago we started the development of an underwater river power plant system (hydro generator) and in 2016 we built a prototype (Figure 1) and demonstrated its operation in a relevant environment (river – TRL6). The development was a success but due to limited resources and other developments the commercialisation of it was put on hold.
Recently we have received interest from companies who approached us with application areas for our technology. Namely, to use our hydro generator for the charging of electronic vehicles and to provide power for infrastructures located near (or on) rivers. Based on this interest we carried out an initial market study and found that there is serious potential to use our existing results and focus it on this new application.
We have successfully applied for SME Instrument Phase 1 funding to carry out a feasibility study in order to strengthen our initial findings and based on the outcome proceed for Phase 2 to produce the first commercial hydro powered electric vehicle charging station.
We carried out a technological and economic feasibility study in order to evaluate the full potential of our development. The outcomes were positive, and therefore we will continue our development.
The European Commission’s 2011 Transport White Paper sets 10 ambitious goals that are needed to be achieved in order to maintain efficient mobility links within the EU. At its core is a challenge to achieve less congestion and fewer emissions. Those two twin initiatives lie at the heart of the commitment to phase out conventionally fuelled cars from cities by 2050, or the ambition to shift 50 % in middle distance passenger and longer distance freight journeys from road to other modes by the same date, or to achieve a 60 % reduction in CO2 emissions. To paraphrase the report, the policy actions are an invitation to break the ‘shackles of transport’s dependency on oil, but without sacrificing its efficiency’.
The main flow of argument regarding the ‘impact’ of lif-E-Buoy towards the above objectives can be summarized as follows:
The cost of use over an electric vehicle’s (EV’s) lifetime is already close to being competitive against internal combustion engines (ICE’s), if all running expenses are considered. Cost parity, which is required for mass adoption is a mere few years away.
We go further and argue that the significant cost reduction in lithium based batteries as a result of the likely long term falls in the price of input component will again increase the attractiveness of EV’s.
Most significantly however, without deeper EV penetration, current fuel efficiency standards cannot be met. As a consequence, both cost and environmental considerations are firmly on EV’s side.
The main challenge for governments and policymakers in encouraging mass EV adoption will be in making sure that the infrastructure to support a shift away from ICE’s is built. Without reliable infrastructure to charge EV’s, consumers will not buy them.
Fortunately, again, we are very close to the emergence of commercially viable Charging Point (CP) networks. Typical payback periods for network operators lie in the 5-8 year range, which is now beginning to attract private sector investment from car OEM’s, electric utilities and even energy majors scrambling to shift focus away from their existing fossil based service stations.
Lif-E-Buoy recently signed a ‘Letter of Intent’ with fuel retailer MOL Group, which operates ~1,900 petrol stations across the CEE region and is intent on embracing the electric age. The potential partnership re-enforces our conviction that the lif-E-Bouy hydro generator electric vehicle charging system will become an integral part of smart city mobility solutions.
The lif-E-Buoy facility takes advantage of the natural hydrokinetic energy of running water, which is abundantly available around most urban centres situated on a river, and independent of season or weather.
The steady but predictable pace in the flow of water makes a perfect resource for slow overnight charging of stationary electric vehicles.
The lif-E-Buoy technology can also be upgraded to meet the ‘rapid charge’ requirement of taxi and bus fleets. In reality, however, most cars are stationary 95% of the time, parked on the street.
We see the main potential market for lif-E-Buoy powered charging points to be vehicles parked on the street overnight, which not only widens the appeal of EV’s for households without access to a garage (and thus home charging), but also ensures that the hydrokinetic flow of rivers running across Europe is effectively harvested