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Periodic Report Summary 2 - FABRIC (FeAsiBility analysis and development of on-Road chargIng solutions for future electric vehiCles)

Project Context and Objectives:
The recent record of global CO2 emissions and the increased severity of catastrophic weather phenomena due to climate change dictate the shift towards cleaner and more economic technologies. Transport is a major atmospheric polluter making it a prime area for the application of new environment-friendly solutions. Electrification of mobility and transport is currently one of the most promising strategies which gains traction daily. Many major vehicle manufacturers introduce electric cars and the charging infrastructure is continuously evolving to meet the end-user needs. Even though the developments of electromobility are impressive and some electric vehicles are close to the usability of their conventional ICE counterparts there is a lot of room for improvement. Electric vehicles’ drawbacks when compared to conventional vehicles such as reduced range, increased price, weight, limited battery lifetime, long recharging time and sometimes inconvenient or even risky charging process are difficult if not impossible to overcome with current technologies. Wireless EV charging provides the flexibility to charge the vehicle during short stops (very frequent in urban environments) or even while driving. This technology not only spares the user from dealing with cables and makes the process unobtrusive, but also allows more frequent, fast charging which means smaller and cheaper batteries, more affordable and lighter EVs and extended range without the need to immobilize the vehicle for hours. The benefits are many but so are the challenges for the large scale implementation of this technology. FABRIC addresses directly the technological feasibility, economic viability and socio-environmental of dynamic on-road charging of electric vehicles. It responds to the need to assess the potential and feasibility of a more extensive integration of electric vehicles in the mobility and transportation system, focusing primarily on dynamic wireless charging which would alleviate most of the drawbacks of current on-board battery packs. On-road charging would also enable the direct link to renewable energy sources: Ultimately this is the only way to fully decarbonise road transport and hence provide true sustainability from the socio-environmental perspective. Specifically, by engaging a highly-qualified, expert and comprehensive group of key stakeholders within its consortium, FABRIC will determine and assess the end-user requirements that will determine the potential of success in various application sectors, the technology drivers and challenges that impact the widespread implementation of wireless charging technology, and the technology gaps to be bridged in order to provide rational and cost-effective solutions for the grid and road infrastructures. Advanced solutions, conceived to enable full integration in the grid and road infrastructure within urban- and extra-urban environments for a wide range of future electric vehicles, will be implemented and tested. Each key issue will be assessed directly and comprehensively, providing insights through experimental evaluations into the relevant technologies, investigating the present and future opportunities for such solutions, and identifying the future trends and requirements for research and development. The ultimate aim is to provide a pivotal contribution to the evolution of e-Mobility in Europe by identifying the benefits and costs in absolute terms so that the investments required in the coming years for widespread implementation and exploitation can be fully defined and quantified.

Project Results:
During the first year of FABRIC, preliminary studies were conducted to assess the current state in electromobility and to define the development foundations for the project prototype systems.
Initially the stakeholders of the system have been identified ranging from simple system users to large organizations such as OEMs grid and road operators and local authorities. A stakeholder survey showed that participants largely supported the concept of on-road charging, but also showing some skepticism towards certain aspects such as cost and business models. A state of the art study for EV charging technologies took place aiming to specify the current state and market readiness level of dynamic EV charging and which technologies could be used off-the-shelf for FABRIC. These implementations are mainly R&D efforts since the technology is very new. Significant work was accomplished in gathering the requirements of road and grid operators, vehicle manufacturers, city and local authorities as well as electromagnetic field (EMF) and safety requirements and detecting the gaps between what exists and what is required.
Afterwards, the foundations of building FABRIC prototype systems were laid such as the use cases definition, the specification of the system concept, its functional requirements and the functional architecture of the system along with security and privacy requirements. FABRIC is designed so as to interact with smart grid actors such as the DSO and energy retailers, foreseeing major integration of the charging infrastructure with the grid in the future. Linked to that were studies aiming at analyzing the existing grids at the test sites, estimating the impact that a large scale transport electrification will have and specifying the necessary adaptations for ensuring grid security. Test site specific adaptations were also defined which were realized within 2016 for both sites. The same methodology was followed for the road infrastructure, examining the infrastructure at the test sites, recommending adaptations and realizing the “e-roads” that will host the charging prototypes.
Three dynamic charging solutions have been designed by VEDECOM/QUALCOMM, POLITO and SAET. The design included thorough simulations to ensure their compliance with safety standards in terms of EMF emissions. The solutions operate in the frequency band of 85kHz and their operating power is around 20kW. The implementations differ in dimensions, electrical and electronic design, as well as operating airgaps. This will allow for comparisons after the evaluation tests. The two solutions are being installed at the Italian test site of FABRIC near Turin while the VEDECOM one at the French test site in Satory, near Versailles. The Italian prototypes will charge the same vehicle which will carry a single secondary coil and this will allow for interoperability studies. The charging pad prototypes both on-board and off-board have been constructed and are currently being replicated. For the optimal operation of the hardware prototypes supporting ICT have been developed, namely the HMIs that will guide the drivers and Lane Keeping Assistance apps that will direct the driver for optimal coils alignment during dynamic charging. In addition a load balancing application has been developed to ensure that the power demand follows supply fluctuations and is distributed optimally so as to guarantee the secure grid operation.
Finally initial feasibility analysis studies have started and they are expected to peak during the last year of the project’s life in 2017 after FABRIC evaluation results become available. The initial studies have produced estimations on the most promising application scenarios for dynamic charging based on many factors that take into account the cost, the environment, and the society.
During these 2,5 years FABRIC has had significant presence in high profile international conferences such as IEEE IEVC, EEVC, ESARS, MedPower, ITS European Congress, ITS World Congress, and organized several special sessions focusing on electromobility and standardization. More than 20 papers published. In 2016 the project’s mid-term event, a conference focusing on dynamic wireless charging and the dissemination of the project’s results, took place in Brussels, attracting many experts (~70) on the field. More information can be found at the project’s website and LinkedIn group.

Potential Impact:
FABRIC is a feasibility study project aiming to assess the potential of large scale implementation of new EV charging technologies in order to reduce the size, weight and cost of batteries while increasing the range of future electric vehicles. Research focus is concentrated on wireless charging which allows for new charging modes that are currently unfeasible i.e. charging during very short stops (stationary charging) and while on the move (dynamic charging). These new modes will enable much more frequent charging, especially in urban environments, at high power instead of immobilizing the vehicle for long periods of time. In addition there is the potential for increased user unobtrusiveness since, in an ideal scenario, the “refueling” can be done even more seamlessly than conventional ICE vehicles. Stationary and dynamic charging presents many challenges and requires careful planning and a priori cost benefit analysis due to the size of the necessary installations: in order to implement a functional system many kilometers of inductive charging infrastructure needs to be embedded in the existing road network. Since power will be transferred wirelessly and on the move, maximum efficiency should be measured beforehand and the system should operate at very high power in order to increase the EV range substantially. This kind of operation, when scaled to many thousands of EVs, is expected to cause large strain to the existing electricity grid. Scheduling and load shaping strategies as well as technical means such as decentralized storage requirements should be drafted to mitigate the increased risk for grid security. Finally the impact on the road network should be estimated since large portions of road lanes will be required to install charging systems. The actual installation of the charging pads in the pavement should also be studied to assess the strain it will cause, the potentially increased maintenance costs and the effect on the road’s lifecycle. Within the framework of FABRIC all of the above aspects will be studied and recommendations will be issued. Three wireless dynamic charging prototypes will be built and tested extensively at test sites in Italy and France in order to assess the feasibility and efficiency of the technology. Requirements and specifications will be produced for the adaptation of the road and grid infrastructure to support the large scale implementation of wireless dynamic charging. Building upon the prototypes’ testing results a cost benefit and implementation scenarios analysis will take place. The projected CO2 savings, EM pollution and social impact on population health and safety will be estimated. Based on the findings a deployment roadmap will also be drafted while significant contribution to standardization and harmonization of wireless charging technologies is expected based on the interoperability analysis of the different prototypes. The ultimate aim is to provide a pivotal contribution to the evolution of e-Mobility in Europe by identifying the benefits and costs in absolute terms so that the investments required in the coming years for widespread implementation and exploitation can be fully defined and quantified.

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