back to article Sniffing substations will solve 'leccy car charging woes, reckons upstart

A power consumption monitoring startup reckons its substation monitoring technology can be used to help the spread of electric car charging points. The OpenLV project aims to deploy a “low cost substation intelligence platform” that monitors local low voltage* substations and meshes them together to supply extra current as …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    Access to the Open LV dataset...

    available for no charge?

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

      Potentially (at least that's the current situation)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

        I see watt you did there

        1. Robin

          Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

          Ohm my god, these puns are terrible.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

            I don't know how you generate so many? They do have potential though.

          2. Steve K Silver badge

            Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

            Armature I have seen worse

          3. Alister Silver badge

            Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

            Which bright spark started this? These puns are re volt ing, they are so bad it Hertz.

          4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

            Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

            Ohm my god, these puns are terrible

            Punners gonna pun - resistance is futile

            1. frank ly Silver badge

              Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

              "... electrickery firm EA Technology ..."

              Ah, Catweazle. Will they be using the telling-bone circuits for data communication? (Yes, I've just shown how old I am. At least some of my memories are still working, but not the important ones I fear.)

              1. kryptonaut

                Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

                "Shine, tiny Sun in a bottle, shine!"

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cgIHS7am9g

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

              I need to learn how to pun like this, maybe I could study a course?

              I wonder if they'll have an induction.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

                "I wonder if they'll have an induction."

                If they don't you may find you progress in 'ampere-d

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

                Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

                I need to learn how to pun like this, maybe I could study a course?

                I wonder if they'll have an induction.

                -------

                Only if you have the capacity for it.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

                  The Mho the merrier

                  1. TRT Silver badge

                    Re: The Mho the merrier

                    How could we re-fuse?

                2. kryptonaut

                  Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

                  Wire you even asking? The course will be run in three phases. It'll transform your life.

                  1. Commswonk Silver badge

                    Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

                    Some of the foregoing puns are real gems Joules.

            3. Mpeler
              Pint

              Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

              Re-volting, aren't they :)

            4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

              Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

              Nothing could induce me to lower myself to this level - Although I can Siemens will crumbling from here. Just glad I have the capacity to resist.

          5. Mpeler
            Coat

            Re: Access to the Open LV dataset...

            Just couldn't resist, could you?

            (such a capacity for puns, and so little reluctance)...

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brave New World

    "say 11kW, this would require 48 amps....... Using an 11kW charger would take six hours to fully charge a Tesla Model S, which also has a 90kWh battery,"

    And when you start drawing 48 amps continuous from a domestic supply for 6 hours at a time, expect to see a dramatic increase in the number of house fires.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Brave New World

      I expect the 18th edition wiring regulations will include modules about high capacity chargers in the domestic scenario as well as micro-generation systems. You have no sound reason to be fearful. They're pretty hot about this sort of thing.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Brave New World

        @ TRT: I expect the 18th edition wiring regulations will include modules about high capacity chargers in the domestic scenario as well as micro-generation systems. You have no sound reason to be fearful. They're pretty hot about this sort of thing.

        Doesn't that rather overlook the fact that an 18th Edition will only really address installations carried out after its adoption? Think of all the premises that will be pre 18th Edition that would have to be reworked to make them compliant, at potentially huge cost.

        Furthermore even if an 18th Edition addresses the "user" installation it will do nothing to uprate the supply side; think of all the roads and pavements that would have to be dug up to install cables adequate for the increased load.

        Commonplace enough scenario; politicians get involved with technology with an outcome best described as delusional.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Brave New World

          @commswonk.

          First off, it was in reply to a concern about fire risk resulting from overloading, rather than a lack of supply. The draft 18th regulations do focus on improving resilience to fire by including arcing detection, a fault mode which isn't detected by RCCD.

          Secondly, there is a specific section to do with installation of vehicle charging points, which is a formalisation of current industry best practice as alluded to in the replies of others.

          Thirdly, the 18th edn is due to be adopted in July 2018, which isn't very far away.

          Fourth, the installation of high capacity vehicle chargers will be done or tested by certified competent electricians as it will involve works covered under an Act of parliament.

          So there will be an increased load on the supply infrastructure, and supply and distribution companies will have to pull their finger out. That's not what my reply was about - my reply was on the domestic wiring and fire risk in houses. The streets exploding under your feet is a completely different kettle of fish (don't plug it in!)

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Brave New World

            "The streets exploding under your feet is a completely different kettle of fish (don't plug it in!)"

            And happens very frequently in London.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: And happens very frequently in London.

              It's not that new of a phenomenon either. My friend was traumatised when the pavement blew up, but then, she was working in a basement room where the section of the room with the lowered ceiling actually protruded out under the pavement. The cable blew the ceiling in that area down, as well as sending the pavement above it up. That was about 22 years ago. She still jumps at loud noises.

    2. cosymart

      Re: Brave New World

      @AC - "And when you start drawing 48 amps continuous from a domestic supply for 6 hours at a time, expect to see a dramatic increase in the number of house fires."

      No reason why unless you try and draw from the standard ring main! These chargers would and should be wired directly to the incoming mains supply via a fused sub-board. Not cheap and an interesting earner for the local sparks :-)

    3. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Brave New World

      Chances are that these charging circuits, if they ever get installed, will run on their own dedicated wires with their own fuse on the house side of the meter, or even possibly with their own meter.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Brave New World

        Surely a long term installation would include its own meter. How else will HMG be able to charge the higher VAT rate and fuel duty? Because one thing you can be damn sure of: they're not going to give up the £28 billion a year they currently get from petrol and diesel sales (pushing 60p/litre, according to an article in the Guardian).

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Brave New World

          Excise duty is 57.95p per litre. VAT is 20% of the pump price excluding VAT, so 1/6 of the price you pay. I paid £1.139 per litre last weekend, so 18.98p per litre in VAT. That means the total tax is 76.93p per litre, or 67.6% of the pump price.

          1. JohnMurray

            Re: Brave New World

            Vat is chargeable on the fuel price PLUS the fuel tax....

        2. Keith Oborn

          Re: Brave New World

          Current regs on domestic EV points require a separate sub-meter with a GSM connection to a central data collection service, so it would be easy to apply an EV energy tax.

          1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

            Re: EV GSM and metering?

            The PodPoint Type 2 CP that I had installed a couple of months ago has none of that gubbins.

            Perhaps this is only for the higher charge rates.

            Anyway, if HMG start charging me an extra energy tax to charge my EV at home, it will only spur me on to install 20-30KWh of battery which will get charged by my 2.8KW Solar array. Then I'll go off grid and the Chancellor can go sing somewhere else for the money.

            As for the costs of PV and batteries... These increase the value of your home more than the cost.

            The problem of reducing income from flogging Petrol/Diesel will need to be solved how but I'm not a politician so... you fill in the blanks.

            1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              Re: EV GSM and metering?

              "

              Anyway, if HMG start charging me an extra energy tax to charge my EV at home, it will only spur me on to install 20-30KWh of battery which will get charged by my 2.8KW Solar array. Then I'll go off grid and the Chancellor can go sing somewhere else for the money.

              "

              So with that 2.8kW solar array you could charge your car once every 4 days - provided it's sunny and you don't use electricity for anything else.

              1. Ledswinger Silver badge

                Re: EV GSM and metering?

                Anyway, if HMG start charging me an extra energy tax to charge my EV at home,

                Not the preferred model. Government have already looked at and (in effect) chosen road pricing as their future model, although they're not sure how they will actually do it. I expect it'll be GPS real time tracking, possibly using the e-call capability (you remember they said there wouldn't be any scope creep? Not that anybody believed them). Because GPS isn't always that accurate they might struggle with road specific charges, though time of use would be easy. Busy or trunk roads might see higher pricing by using ANPR in parallel with the GPS tracking. Additional great benefits for government include charging you more when it suits them, a vast database of everybody's movements, the ability to issue speeding and parking tickets automatically.

                But regardless of that, your EV charging costs will at least double anyway, for two reasons - first the continuing "climate change panic" changes to the energy systems, and all the subsidy fuelled PV, wind, and network changes, that's putting up your charges every year for the next decade as a minimium, and second because with the emergence of EV charging demand and static battery storage for peak loads, the idea of really cheap off peak electricity is doomed, because as off peak demand rises significantly, so will overnight power prices.

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: EV GSM and metering?

                  "Government have already looked at and (in effect) chosen road pricing as their future model"

                  That'll be an additional charge. Remember that temporary provision of income tax is still with us.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: EV GSM and metering?

              "The problem of reducing income from flogging Petrol/Diesel will need to be solved how but I'm not a politician"

              But don't expect those who are to wring it out of you one way or another.

        3. DJO Silver badge

          Re: Brave New World

          Surely a long term installation would include its own meter. How else will HMG be able to charge the higher VAT rate and fuel duty?

          Too easy to circumvent either by charging slowly over the normal mains supply or by charging at work or a street charger or for the agricultural types, a generator running on red diesel.

          My bet is the introduction of a mileage tax once electric cars are firmly ensconced. Much easier to collect as electric cars are all full of electronics and keep a records of pretty much everything and are all connected to the Internet (passengers will insist on WiFi) so like it or not the car will rat on you reporting your daily mileage to the nice man at the tax office.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Brave New World

            "My bet is the introduction of a mileage tax once electric cars are firmly ensconced."

            And that will probably be in addition to duty and VAT on electricity and VED (once called the Road Fund but damn-all of that gets spent on roads these days). Don't expect the Treasury to just take once.

      2. Keith Oborn

        Re: Brave New World

        Exactly how current ones are done. We have a 32 amp EV charge point. Regulations require a separate spur and breaker with separate ground spike from the EV point. There a lots of these already installed, as you get a 500 quid grant to do them.

      3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    4. Stuart 22
      Trollface

      Re: Brave New World

      Some more realistic charging times for city commuting without rewiring or damaging your leccy bill:

      Standard charger (included) 2A charger (80% charge in 3-3.5 hours, 100% in 4-5 hours)

      Fast charger (optional accessory) 4A charger (80% charge in 1.5-2 hours, 100% in 2.5-3 hours) - additional £115

      Reservable now for delivery in 2018 (which is faster than a Tesla Model 3):

      https://www.brompton.com/brompton-gbr/uk-store/bikes/Brompton-Electric-Reservation-Deposit/c-24/c-77/p-2897

      50 mile range and you can still get you home even if the battery goes flat :-)

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Stuart 22

          Re: Brave New World

          "That's for a pansy e-bicycle ... not for a car that ... goes a lot faster, so at least an order of magnitude more propulsion power required, moron!"

          Not faster in most cities my friend. Oh and the pansy non-electric version is good for touring Europe. Yep, Mt Ventoux would have been a little challenging but now with a little assistance?

          Hope you keep your day job Rex ;-)

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Brave New World

        "Some more realistic charging times for city commuting without rewiring or damaging your leccy bill:...https://www.brompton.com/brompton-gbr/uk-store/bikes/Brompton-Electric-Reservation-Deposit/c-24/c-77/p-2897

        Which city? Some of them have more hills than others.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Green remembered Hills

          "Some [cities] have more hills than others."

          True, but in most cities where there are hills to climb, there are equivalent hills to descend too, where the regenerative braking concept (kinetic energy recovery system, whatever) might be of benefit.

  3. Alister Silver badge

    Using an 11kW charger would take six hours to fully charge a Tesla Model S, ... from the 25 per cent full state.

    So a 3.5kW charger is likely to take between 18 and 20 hours to charge an equivalent vehicle, therefore people will be much more likely to use a higher wattage device.

    This means that the following:

    The project concluded that across Britain 32 per cent of low voltage circuits (312,000) will require reinforcing when 40 per cent –70 per cent of customers have EVs based on 3.5kW chargers.”

    ...is a load of rubbish, and that actually the current electrical infrastructure is unlikely to support any serious uptake of electrical vehicles.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Back of the envelope calculation suggests that the amount of energy used in fuel by domestic vehicles alone is approximately the same as the National Grid currently generates.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Are you taking relative efficiencies into account?

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        Even the most simple back of the envelope calculation will immediately show that large scale uptake of electric cars is going to lead to exceeding the amount of spare capacity that the grid can generate at the moment.

        This is a bit of a problem, since the closure of our coal and most of our old nuclear plants by 2025 is going to leave us with much less capacity than we have now. Yet we are expected to have more capacity available for electric cars despite not building it, and people actively objecting to building any practical scale power generation.

        I spy a design flaw, and power cuts waiting to happen.

        1. Fonant

          Local Generation and Storage FTW

          According to The Fully Charged Show (well worth watching, YouTube) the more EVs we have the more we have large capacity batteries with fast charge/discharge capabilities. As such parked EVs are ideal for storing intermittent solar and wind energy, taking a lot of load of the National Grid. Charge your EV during the day using solar, then sell some energy to the Grid from your car in the evening peak, and then charge it back up overnight when electricity is cheap.

          Peak load spikes on the Grid are thus significantly reduced, with lots of local storage removing the need for mass transfer of power across the country. So your Nuclear power stations can be turned up a bit to provide a bit more baseload, and your coal and gas can be turned off :)

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. JLV Silver badge

              Re: Local Generation and Storage FTW

              >EV owners have to have enough solar panels on their property

              Hmmm, you don't live near Vancouver, Seattle or in the UK, do you? Aussie? California?

              And maximizing home solar generation ain't necessarily the answer if you're trying to recharge a car during the day while it is out commuting its owner to work.

              That's why I like my dam - solar and wind can pump water back up during high generation/low use periods. Hydro is an instant-on technology and is pretty clean once you've emitted CO2 during construction and allowed for methane from dead vegetation.

              Thing is, as you can see with both my snark and my preferred, local, solution, a lot of renewable solutions are specific to the particular geographic circumstances of your location - the UK has limited hydro potential for example.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Local Generation and Storage FTW

            "As such parked EVs are ideal for storing intermittent solar and wind energy"

            That assumes they're parked somewhere where they can be connected to the grid. And if they're so parked when there's a demand for power you'll find you can't get home. Any chance of walking to the filling station to get a Jerry can of leccy?

            1. JLV Silver badge

              Re: Local Generation and Storage FTW

              that also assumes that these grid-storage-oriented cycles aren't causing wear and tear to the batteries. it's one thing to wear out your $$$$ battery driving, it's another to do so playing load-levelling games.

          3. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Local Generation and Storage FTW

            Peak load spikes on the Grid are thus significantly reduced, with lots of local storage removing the need for mass transfer of power across the country. So your Nuclear power stations can be turned up a bit to provide a bit more baseload, and your coal and gas can be turned off :)

            Ok. Let's just say that we do what your suggesting and see what would happen. Demand at the time of writing is 40.11 GW demand. (http://gridwatch.templar.co.uk/)

            Nuclear is generating 7.57GW out of a max capacity of 8GW.

            Gas is generating 18.33GW out of a max capacity of 25GW.

            Coal is generating 1.15GW out of a max capacity of 10GW.

            Wind is generating 5.78GW out of a thereotical capacity (which has never come close to being obtained) of 16.3GW

            So you want to turn nuclear up by 0.43GW (by skipping the maintenance/refuelling operation on one reactor) and turn off 19.47GW of coal and gas generation, which is 49% of the power generation being used in the country at the moment? Are you really sure this is a good idea?

        2. JLV Silver badge

          >people actively objecting to building any practical scale power generation

          Which is why our provincial Greens - BC, Canada here - are so insistent on nuking the construction of our first major dam in 20+ years. Even managed to rope in Amnesty International to oppose it on the basis of human rights abuse vs the local Indian tribe whose claimed territory would be flooded. Never mind that said tribe had no access while it was commercial farmland. First time AI actually formally criticized Canadian govt for mishandling native affairs.

          Funny, given crap like reserves having boil-water advisories stretching over decades and tying tax-free status to not only Indian ancestry, but income being generated on-reserve.

          With morons like that, and the Greens in Germany insisting on switching nukes over to lignite, it'll take a while, and lots of taxpayer $$$, before CO2 emissions actually get reduced.

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Peter2

          I spy a design flaw, and power cuts waiting to happen.

          That is why the big push to have 'smart meters' installed. Rolling blackouts when there isn't enough electricity generated due to there being no wind and no reliable source of base load power.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "exceeding the amount of spare capacity that the grid can generate at the moment."

          We have spare capacity? Who knew?

      3. jeffdyer

        The national grid doesn't generate anything.

    2. Natalie Gritpants

      I don't know about you but I suspect some houses/electricty-meters have more than one car parked outside every night. I blame those naughty people living together.

      1. mike white 1

        Terraced Houses

        So what happens if you live(like many people in the UK do) in a row of terraced houses where half the time its impossible to park outside your own house(which incidentally you have no legal right to do so) and where you may not have Off road parking front or rear?

        Even if you could park outside then it means there will be charging cables running across the pavement every 30 foot or so.

        How will pedestrians (especially those with prams/pushchairs, the blind, people in wheelchairs) manage?

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Terraced Houses

          And therein lies the bugbear.

        2. gotes

          Re: Terraced Houses

          I have seen a couple of properties near me with marked "reserved" parking spaces outside the house specifically for EVs.

          1. mike white 1

            Re: Terraced Houses

            Gotes wrote: "I have seen a couple of properties near me with marked "reserved" parking spaces outside the house specifically for EVs."

            For which they have probably had to apply for planning permission from the local council (same way as for a marked disabled bay) l.

            It might work whilst EVs are a rarity but it's not sustainable going forwards.

            Is it?

    3. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Using an 11kW charger would take six hours to fully charge a Tesla Model S, ... from the 25 per cent full state.

      That takes the way we run ICE cars, and assumes that you'd do the same with an EV, but many of these calculations are around worst case scenarios that are easily avoided. Why deep discharge your EV battery, and then be panicking to do a 75% recharge overnight at home? That's daft for most users. The logical way to charge your car is to do top up charging every night of use (or every other night), and then, across the electricity system the system only needs to supply one day's EV use. For the average company car that's about 50 miles a day (for non-company cars about 30 miles per day). Each kWh gets about 2.5 miles of range, so a business user would need to take 20 kWh (or 40 kWh every other night), and over say an eight hour charging period, that's either 2.5 kW or 5 kW load, easily within the capacity of most electrical supply connections to the home. The 3.5kW chargers are bit puny, the 11 kW too meaty for most domestic use, but a 7 kW charger would be a better compromise for the electricity distribution system.

      Obviously road warriors doing 30k-50k miles a year will have a problem, but they'd need to use something like the Tesla superchargers anyway, because it wouldn't be practical for those users to try and plan a daily itinerary around battery charge state because every day they would be doing a full discharge of an 80-100 kWh battery.

  4. Vulture@C64

    This is one reason Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are the answer for the vast majority of people, not battery powered vehicles.

    Hydrogen is 100% clean at point of use, same as electricity. Sufficient fuel for a 500 mile journey in a car can be transferred into a tank in 5 to 6 minutes and the existing distribution network can be used to deliver it with very little modification with the costs of modification on the current providers (fuel companies) which are able to afford it now.

    H2 can be produced using electricity provided by the vast array of wind turbines we have now and are continuing to plant. Currently some turbines are turned off when there's no demand - this will end so turbines will become more cost effective and improve the efficiency of H2 cars beyond battery cars.

    The future is hydrogen - at least some people are now waking up to the difficulties of battery vehicles, which will only ever be appropriate for somewhere less than 50% of the population anyway.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Or some other form of synthesised chemical storage.

    2. inmypjs Silver badge

      Hydrogen is a ridiculously expensive and impractical transport fuel. The yank DoE alone has invested $3 billion in 'hydrogen economy' research over the the last 27 years and come up with approximately nothing useful.

      Batteries are crap and Musk is a moron. but, he rightly laughs at people trying to compare the cost, efficiency, and practicality of hydrogen with his crap batteries.

      1. inmypjs Silver badge

        Musk on hydrogen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFPnT-DCBVs

      2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        "Hydrogen is a ridiculously expensive and impractical transport fuel. The yank DoE alone has invested $3 billion in 'hydrogen economy' research over the the last 27 years and come up with approximately nothing useful."

        The DoE should have a look at what the Swiss Post Buses are doing.

        Swiss Hydrogen Bus and Refuelling are “CHIC”

        And yes, these are still in operation and expanding to other areas in Switzerland.

        CHIC Project - Clean Hydrogen In European Cities

        1. inmypjs Silver badge

          "DoE should have a look at what the Swiss Post Buses"

          Wow - $3 billion and 27 years and and they could have 5 buses that would have been cheaper and greener and perform better with batteries to show for it.

          The only current practical use for hydrogen fuel cells is for fork lift trucks in large indoor warehouses. Where zero (except water) emission is a requirement the light weight and quick refuelling beats having multiple batteries and charging stations to support continuous operation.

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            And normal consumers won't value those points too?

            Ok, so Hydrogen isn't great on the efficiency front. At least it isn't now, but who knows about the future.

            Personally, though, I at least would welcome being able to refuel in a few minutes instead of having to plug in for however long.

            All well and good having fast chargers at service stations if you don't live near to one, and have to plug your car in for hours and hours on a domestic supply.

            I can't be the only one.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: And normal consumers won't value those points too?

              "Ok, so Hydrogen isn't great on the efficiency front. At least it isn't now, but who knows about the future."

              It doesn't get round the containment problem. And if your hydrogen powered vehicle catches fire there'll be no point calling the fire brigade - it'll be scattered over a wide area before they can arrive.

        2. JLV Silver badge

          been there, done that:

          http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-transit-s-90m-hydrogen-bus-fleet-to-be-sold-off-converted-to-diesel-1.2861060

          I'll save you the energy of pointing out that the H2 had to be shipped in from Quebec which certainly impacted the outcome. But hardly the kind of resounding success you claim. One extra aspect of hydrogen, along with helium, is that it is a pain to store - it's extremely good at leaking out of places.

          1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

            "been there, done that:

            http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-transit-s-90m-hydrogen-bus-fleet-to-be-sold-off-converted-to-diesel-1.2861060

            I'll save you the energy of pointing out that the H2 had to be shipped in from Quebec which certainly impacted the outcome. But hardly the kind of resounding success you claim."

            I wasn't claiming a resounding success, merely that testing continues.

            Your article isn't as negative as your wording implies.

            Denhoff once served as chairman of BC Transit but, he says, they aren't receptive to new ideas. "I just think management there doesn't like new technology."

            He denies this was a failed experiment, saying it helped prove the technology is viable and kept thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases out of the air.

            ...

            According to Burnaby's Ballard Power Systems, which manufactures fuel cell engines, Whistler's hydrogen buses cost $1.34 per kilometre to maintain, versus 65 cents per kilometre for diesel-powered buses.

            Canadian petrol/diesel prices tells us that in Canada diesel is 0.75 EUR per litre, compared to the UK's 1.34 per litre, which means their cost comparison isn't really valid for the UK.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              "Canadian petrol/diesel prices tells us that in Canada diesel is 0.75 EUR per litre, compared to the UK's 1.34 per litre, which means their cost comparison isn't really valid for the UK."

              UK costs are heavily influenced by taxation. Expect that to be applied to any fuel except as a temporary measure which the government of the day has been lead by the nose lobbied to support.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "One extra aspect of hydrogen, along with helium, is that it is a pain to store - it's extremely good at leaking out of places."

            And, unlike helium, very good at producing fireballs when it does.

    3. Dave Harvey

      Ok - if you're happy to lose 2/3 of the energy

      electricity => H2 => electricity has a maximum theoretical efficiency of about 35% and in practice lower, as opposed to battery charging/discharging which can manage about 80%. Demand-based charging of cars can be implemented as easily as demand-based splitting of water, so BOTH can reduce curtailment.

      Hydrogen only works if either generated from methane (a fossil fuel of course) or if you have electricity so cheap and abundant that you're happy to sacrifice 2/3 of it along the way.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Future is Nuclear

      If the future can afford Hydrogen it will not be with present hydrogen technology. If the future can afford today's hydrogen technology then the better choice is today's nuclear. Present Hydrogen runs up against our basic understanding of energy and physics, resulting in almost any other option being more cost effective.

      "The large amount of energy required to isolate hydrogen from natural compounds (water, natural gas, biomass), package the light gas by compression or liquefaction, transfer the energy carrier to the user, plus the energy lost when it is converted to useful electricity with fuel cells, leaves around 25% for practical use." Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2006-12-hydrogen-economy-doesnt.html#jCp

      Take into account the massive carbon footprint of the new hydrogen infrastructure and its operation for the amount of energy being delivered and nuclear powered electrical grid will win every time. And nuclear has cleaner options that do not require a new understanding of physics.

      Not that I don't like Hydrogen, love it, worked at a place with a hydrogen refueling station, I've driven hydrogen powered cars, I would buy one if I had that kind of cash but then I would also buy a nitromethane powered car. Neither fuel scales scales well enough for mass use but we can still dream.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Re: The Future is Nuclear

        I'm dreaming ;-) And hoping that someone will luck into finding a catalyst that can greatly reduce the inefficiencies.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: The Future is Nuclear

          Why stop at hydrogen. Convert it into an alcohol (preferably with CO2 extracted from the atmosphere), and you can deliver it via the existing infrastructure & use barely-modified existing engine technology.

          1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

            Re: The Future is Nuclear

            "Why stop at hydrogen. Convert it into an alcohol (preferably with CO2 extracted from the atmosphere), and you can deliver it via the existing infrastructure & use barely-modified existing engine technology."

            See Brazil for an example of ethanol as fuel, but Apparently it's not going as well as it used to (Washington Post Article from 2014)

            1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

              Re: The Future is Nuclear

              The economic and political problems of ethanol as fuel does not stop it's practical and logical applications.

              Basically, we could have flying cars right now if not for the woes of the world. However, even getting a bit of lettuce can get your hand shot off in the wrong place. Point has noting to do with the tech...

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: The Future is Nuclear

                "Basically, we could have flying cars right now if not for the woes of the world."

                No, people started thinking harder and realized ubiquitous flying vehicles only make sense in a world with no gravity. Otherwise, you'd be spending too much energy just staying in the air (which is unavoidable, again, due to gravity). Air travel only works in bulk or when time is of the essence and the customer is willing to pay through the nose for it.

                1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

                  Re: The Future is Nuclear

                  "No, people started thinking harder and realized ubiquitous flying vehicles only make sense in a world with no gravity. Otherwise, you'd be spending too much energy just staying in the air (which is unavoidable, again, due to gravity)"

                  James May did a programme on personal jet packs, and although he got a few feet into the air, straight upwards, the fuel consumed just to hove was in the region of that used by a 747 at cruising altitude.

                2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

                  Re: The Future is Nuclear

                  I said we would have flying cars... not fuel efficient flying cars. ;) I know the technical limitations. However the social ones are the main reason there is not even a sinlge (for elites and the rich only) version out yet. Though a small quad copter is the current closest to release.

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: The Future is Nuclear

            Why stop at alcohol? Why not go whole hog and manufacture synthetic hydrocarbon fuel? The US Navy is researching this for their aircraft carriers which have power to spare with their nuclear reactors, plenty of resources to draw from the sea, and an immediate need for jet fuel. Anything they can cook up can likely be adapted to more general uses.

      2. Ogi

        Re: The Future is Nuclear

        "The large amount of energy required to isolate Hydrogen from natural compounds (water, natural gas, biomass), package the light gas by compression or liquefaction, transfer the energy carrier to the user, plus the energy lost when it is converted to useful electricity with fuel cells, leaves around 25% for practical use."

        If only there was a way to store Hydrogen in a compact, energy dense form. Perhaps chemically linked with Carbon atoms?

        I know, we could call them "Hydro-Carbons"!

        Only part joking actually. Seems to me that all this money invested in better electric vehicles would be better spent on improving the cycle efficiency of closed carbon cycle liquid fuels (or biofuels). This would instantly allow all current and existing vehicles to become carbon neutral overnight, we could use the existing infrastructure outright as is, with the "couple minute" refuel convenience and long range.

        Wins all round, except for those who own shares of battery makers and lithium/cobalt miners.

        There is already bio diesel and bio butanol as like-for-like replacements to diesel and petrol (no modification needed), while bioethanol, while easier to make, needs engine modifications on non "flexfuel" cars.

        With work on either fuel cells or really efficient series hybrid cars, we could really make a dent in carbon output. We would use liquid fuels as an energy storage/transport medium, rather than now when we just dig it out the ground.

        However people in power are too fixated on "combustion" == "bad", to think of alternatives, and this push to battery electric will not only ruin the environment more, it will be less convenient, less range, and would a) require wholesale scrappage of existing vehicles and the infrastructure, and b) a completely parallel electric charging infrastructure side by side (for a long while, until nothing uses liquid fuels anymore), which is very wasteful in monetary (and other terms).

    5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Hydrogen as a power source for cars

      is a non starter unless you are in Japan.

      Everywhere else is going Battery Electric.

      There are plenty of debates on other sites that show clearly how Hydrogen is a dead duck here.

      It may have a role in larger vehicles and fixed storage.

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Sufficient fuel for a 500 mile journey in a car can be transferred into a tank in 5 to 6 minutes and the existing distribution network can be used to deliver it with very little modification with the costs of modification on the current providers (fuel companies) which are able to afford it now."

      So very little modification is needed between handling a liquid and a compressed gas which is particularly good at finding its way out of almost any joint.

  5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Tesla is not typical

    A Tesla is not the typical domestic car. Those tend to have about a 40kWh battery, and will happily charge on a 13amp charger overnight, so no need for the 11kW versions and 48amps

    I'm not sure who will actually need the 11kW chargers - not needed if you've got all night (except for Tesla with a flat battery), and too slow for when you need to recharge NOW!

    We're in the process of getting an ultra-fast charger for our community shop, which will do a typical battery in 15-20 mins (have a coffee while you wait). But it will be pulling 120kW and needs 80-amp 3-phase to run!

    Various researchers are talking of having batteries that can take a full charge in 5 mins - which will need something like a 500kW feed! Yeah, right...

    Long term future does not look good for recharge from the mains - I suspect within a few years we'll either see standardised batteries so they can be swapped or feasible Hydrogen cars.

    1. Vulture@C64

      Re: Tesla is not typical

      I think if battery cars are to be viable for many people the battery packs will need to be much larger even than Tesla use, especially in the winter when they need heating along with the car interior.

      1. Dave Harvey

        Re: Tesla is not typical

        in practice, in a Tesla, heating barely takes anything off the range after the first mile or two. Even that can be avoided by pre-heating whilst still plugged in, but after that, there is a reasonable amount of heat generated by the batteries in use (why efficiency is < 100%!), and that is available and used for space heating.

      2. maffski

        Re: Tesla is not typical

        But the average commute will remain the same regardless of the battery size required for edge case journeys. A 30 mile round trip commute is a 30 mile round trip regardless of it being in a 90kwh Model S or a 40kwh Zoe; the grid load required to recharge will be almost the same.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Tesla is not typical

      "Long term future does not look good for recharge from the mains - I suspect within a few years we'll either see standardised batteries so they can be swapped or feasible Hydrogen cars."

      I used to think standardised makes sense, except at one point I remembered that the batteries are about half the car at the moment, and replacing them in a hot swap would be difficult. You might as well just change cars at that point. And that makes a lot of sense if you as doing CaaS (car as a service) at that point.

      1. Keith Oborn

        Re: Tesla is not typical

        Looks like a capacity of 100kwh (same as the top Tesla S model) is about where you want to be: gives around 300 miles "motorway speed" range.

        Plans are in hand (Mercedes, VW, BMW at least) to build a 350kw public charge point network in Europe. That keeps us in the 20 minute to 80% range.

        If you have driven 300 miles you really *should* be stopping for at least 20 minutes, so reducing that time to the 4-5 mins for a petrol tank fill is not really the point.

        As for domestic charging, it will be a rare case for a car to be driven on a 300 mile round trip from home and arrive back "empty". For these cases, leave it plugged in to (say) a 7Kw point and then visit a public point to top up as and when you need to. Simples ;-)

        Battery costs are way down: we have a 30Kwh Leaf, swapped from a 24kwh one. Friends have an original 20Kwh one delivered in 2011. In that time, cost per kwh has dropped by a factor of >4:

        https://electrek.co/2017/01/30/electric-vehicle-battery-cost-dropped-80-6-years-227kwh-tesla-190kwh/

        So my 30Kwh unit, bought earlier this year, is around $6000, call it £4500. In a £25000 car that is not a big deal.

        1. Baldrickk Silver badge

          Re: Tesla is not typical

          So what's the range on your Leaf then? Quite a bit less I seem to remember.

          Even less when the batteries start to degrade after some time and can't hold their charge.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Tesla is not typical

          "Plans are in hand (Mercedes, VW, BMW at least) to build a 350kw public charge point network in Europe. That keeps us in the 20 minute to 80% range."

          Based on Pen-y-gors' example above that'll allow 3 cars to be charged at once. Even on the basis of taking a break every 300 miles of motorway travel it's not enough. How often, at least during the working day, do you see a motorway service station car park with only 3 cars in it?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Tesla is not typical

        "I used to think standardised makes sense, except at one point I remembered that the batteries are about half the car at the moment, and replacing them in a hot swap would be difficult. "

        Maybe the car makers need a paradigm shift in car design. Currently, they mainly look like standard ICE cars which means people expect the usual boot space etc. Maybe new electric cars need to be more modular with some standardised parts/shapes so a battery swap becomes practical. Maybe the "car" is just a cab that sits on a swappable chassis that contains wheels, motors and batteries. Got a long trip? Get the big chassis today. Maybe in 20 years, we will barely recognise a car compared to today.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tesla is not typical

      Until electric cars can get charged in roughly the amount of time it takes to fuel a gasoline car, along with the charging stations as abundant as gas stations, I don't see electric vehicles totally replacing gas cars.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tesla is not typical

        Until electric cars can get charged in roughly the amount of time it takes to fuel a gasoline car

        I would add to that - and get the same distance as a full tank of fuel (petrol, diesel) in a normal car electric cars will be nothing than 'go to the local shop' transport and that assumes they are in a city or town.

    4. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: Tesla is not typical

      "A Tesla is not the typical domestic car."

      No they almost have a practical range.

    5. Dave Harvey

      Re: Tesla is not typical

      You're absolutely right - 11kW public access is useless, which of courses explain why Scottish/Welsh governments are paying a fortune to get them (or even worse, fancily-branded 13A sockets!) installed :-( TBH, even the 40kW "Chademo" chargers are not much better.

      For home/overnight use, 32A (7kW) is perfectly adequate for almost all cases, and for "on the move", at least 100kW is needed. Anything in between these figures has very limited utility, except possibly workplaces, where an 8 hour (or perhaps 4 hour if swapping) charge time would work, making 10-22kW feasible.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Tesla is not typical

        Cars with 100KWh of battery are going to be very rare for 5-10 years. Go look at how much a P100D costs.

        That is serious money.

        For us mere mortals, a Nissan Leaf with a 40KWh battery (made in Sunderland) is more typical.

        in a few years, 40KWh will be 50-60KWh but for most of us that would mean charging once a week.

        I have a PHEV (Outlander) and get around 22 miles of local driving. That usually costs me £0.00p as I charge it from my PV system when the sun is shining or at my local Open CP (at Sainsbury's). That is free leccy for any EV/PHEV.

        Until you have a proper PHEV or EV then you don't really understand the whole concept. Getting a PV system for your home is a no brainer when you have a battery powered vehicle.

        My overall leccy consumption is around 50% of what it was before I had the PV system installed,

        I'll be that that reduction in grid comsuption was not included in the 'back of envelope' calculations made by other posters OR the huge amounts of Offshore wind that has been approved this year.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Tesla is not typical

          "a Nissan Leaf with a 40KWh battery (made in Sunderland)"

          At present. Is replacing the entire UK IC fleet with electric their plan for keeping car mass-manufacture in the UK post-Brexit?

          " That is free leccy for any EV/PHEV."

          That's the rest of us subsidising you. HMG is very good at handing out other people's money to get something they have been lobbied to want get going. Don't think that will continue.

    6. Callam McMillan

      Re: Tesla is not typical

      Pen-y-gors. A 120kW charger will be pulling a lot more than 80A. A 100A low voltage 3-phase supply tops out at 70kW (415 volts x 100 amps x sqrt(3) = 71880 watts)

    7. FlossyThePig

      Re: Tesla is not typical

      If you want a Tesla 11kW charger you need to have a three phase supply. The normal Tesla domestic charger is 7.4kW.

      Have a look at some of Robert Llewellyn's videos on http://www.fullychargedshow.co.uk/ and see what's happening on the Orkney Islands.

    8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Tesla is not typical

      "We're in the process of getting an ultra-fast charger for our community shop, which will do a typical battery in 15-20 mins (have a coffee while you wait)"

      Whist having your coffee you can also chat to all those queuing up to wait their turn for a charge.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "meshes them together to supply extra current as required when demand spikes"

    So.... does this need extra cabling, and if not, why isn't this load balancing already happening?

    This also misses the core issue:- we need a lot more generation capacity *and* energy storage capacity (for renewables) to allow us all to own an electric car, even if only (say) 10% of us plug it in each night.

    What I don't get is why *none* of the political parties are pointing out that electric cars are a luxury item and therefore should *not* be subsidised; someone on an average salary in the UK can't afford one. I like the concept of electric cars, but I'm damned if I can see why someone at the lower end of the income spectrum should be subsidising the purchase of a car for a higher earner.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "but I'm damned if I can see why someone at the lower end of the income spectrum should be subsidising the purchase of a car for a higher earner."

      It's an industrial strategy, just with the subsidies for business being better hidden to avoid regulations.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      What I don't get is why *none* of the political parties are pointing out that electric cars are a luxury item and therefore should *not* be subsidised...

      Because politicians like to live in a world where external realities are excluded when those realities are in conflict with their deeply cherished beliefs. In the case of EVs technical realities are ruthlessly ignored because to recognise them would result in the politicians having to acknowledge that their dreams are just that; dreams.

      EVs are seen as an "environmental" matter and as is all too often obvious the environmental lobby has politicians in some sort of Vulcan death grip.

  7. Lee D Silver badge

    I have a huge 32A commando connector thing on the outside of my house.

    It runs an electric kiln but, while you're there, why not make it a permanent and swappable fixture so you can use it for other things in the future, building works, etc.

    But, unfortunately, it would be bog useless for even standard charging of an electric car the way I use mine. I'd just about be able to use it for the little electric moped that the other person who lives in the house would use incessantly (they're Italian, though, so...)

    Given that that one device can pull more current than ANYTHING ELSE in the house (even a boiler or cooker), and that even that device is not sufficient, I can see no reasonable alternative that people can use. The wiring here is actually quite good, I pity those people who don't have modern wiring though.

    You're basically talking about a significant portion of people who currently own a car having to upgrade not only their fuseboxes / fit electrical points etc. but also upgrade their incoming feed entirely (and so the electric company will demand new meters, checks, etc. along the way). That's an incredible expense.

    The alternative is that petrol stations become charging stations, but then you are stuffed if your battery does die while you're on holiday - you need a tow to get it going. And the queues are going to be horrendous if you have to wait 20+ minutes per customer, unless you literally have five times as many charging points as you did petrol pumps. Which just adds to the problem.

    I can't see it happening any time soon. I doubt they'll ever reach their petrol-car cutoff dates. I foresee an endless pushing-back of that date. Especially as they get no tax from it, but have to pay a fortune to provision for it.

    1. Dave Harvey

      Lee D:

      "But, unfortunately, it would be bog useless for even standard charging of an electric car the way I use mine"

      I'm intrigued - without giving away too many personal details, how far do you drive each day, and how long are you home for? I ask as 7.3kW x 10 hours (1 hour to go to bed, 8 hours sleeping and 1 hour to get up) would charge just about any car on the market from a sane figure to get home on (say 10%) to a sensible long-term charge (say 85%).

      I'm speaking as a Tesla owner (admittedly 70kW) with a mixed pattern of driving, who in 15 months has never yet failed to have a charged car in the morning, from a 32A socket!

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Ultra conmuter

        He must be conmuting somthing like more than 100 miles on each direction per day.. otherwise, the car would be charged...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Ultra conmuter

          Or he could be a roving contractor or some other person who has to extensively drive his own car every day for a living.

  8. Jim Mitchell
    Boffin

    Unit confusion

    All this talk of KWs and amps in the comments is confusing me. I thought the unit of electricity in the UK was the tea kettle?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Unit confusion

      "I thought the unit of electricity in the UK was the tea kettle?"

      What's a tea kettle? Is that like a kettle for boiling water but special in some way in that it only makes tea? No coffee, hot chocolate, Pot Noodles or even covfefe?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unit confusion

        You don't want to boil the water for coffee, hot chocolate and pot noodles are best done in a wide-open pot or decent-sized saucepan since you want to put the stuff in the water and keep boiling it for a bit first (especially if you're using milk with the hot chocolate since you want to avoid boiling milk for long).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The next step up from 7kW is often 22kW. That requires a 3 phase supply - not common in domestic situations.

    Even a 3.6kW charger is often connected via a separate breaker wired into the supply between the meter and the normal consumer unit.

    An electric cooker or shower is often rated more than 7kW, so it is not an unreasonable load. Although those devices do not often run continuously for several hours. But night storage heaters do often run continuously for some hours - so a single phase electric car charger is comparable to night storage heaters. If everyone converted to those then it would probably pose a problem for the supply. But that hasn't happened.

    Some smarts could be added to the system so that if there is a large demand from the house then the car charging reduces its load. That would limit the draw to some safe value for the wires to the house. But the local supply network would be designed on the assumption that houses don't all impose a large continuous load, so they could easily be overloaded if they are not monitored. Some smarts put into the local network could be used to tell houses when they should restrict their demand. But that would cause problems if people wake up on a cold morning to find their car has not charged up (or preheated) due to too great a demand overnight.

  10. Mage Silver badge
    Alert

    PR spin?

    "“Currently, electricity network operators don’t have enough information about how much spare capacity there is on local electricity networks."

    Maybe some don't. I don't believe it's true in most of Europe.

    Anyway, if EV was something regular people could afford rather than something subsided for the rich there isn't even a 1/100th of the capacity needed.

    The Irish network operator has been told to sell its EV charging points, or find some other way to fund them. Ordinary electricity users are paying as they are subsidized by about €25 M a year. I've seen such a point once, so imagine how much that subsidy would be if they were as common as petrol stations.

    Also no "fuel" tax, unlike any other method of transport. A hidden subsidy unless we had cheap fusion power, or wave power economics & technology was solved.

  11. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Boffin

    66GW

    That's how much load there would be if all the cars (not trucks) currently being driver, were all electric and were charged overnight.

    Information sourced from publicly available data.

    The extra load 7pm-7am would be 66GW. Right now, the overnight power usage is 20GW.

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: 66GW

      Thumb down?

      Take the total amount of petrol and diesel used on the roads by cars in one year.

      Multiply by the energy density of the fuels to get total energy.

      Assume that vehicles will only be charged overnight, so work out the power by dividing total energy by 365*12 hours

      66GW.

      While the direct conversion from petroleum-sourced energy to battery-sourced energy could be argued about, I remember working out the power efficiency of a Nissan Leaf against something like a Peugeot 106, and finding that at the power station the difference was modest.

      Total peak generation in the UK is currently 78.3GW, of which 68.4GW is "Major Power Producers". The remaining 10 is "non-MPP", including: "autogenerators, businesses that generate their own electricity and may export surplus to the grid, and microgeneration by the domestic and commercial sectors"

      Generation capacity is going down as old coal stations close; the ability of the Grid to push out 86GW every night is dependent on a considerable amount of capacity building. Hinckley Point will not cover it!

  12. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    we don't fuel gas cars at home

    so why the insistence on recharging electrics at home? a large battery/supercap bank on a ubiquitous corner "filling station" right along major electrical supply lines would allow more efficient charging and no worries about datasets and potentially millions of homes needing to update charging technology whenever standards change. No worries about intrusive systems to figure out "which power is used for the car so it can be taxed separately" schemes.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: we don't fuel gas cars at home

      Then what happens during rush hour when the "filling stations" get seriously slammed?

    2. gotes

      Re: we don't fuel gas cars at home

      This should be obvious. It takes much longer to charge an EV than it does to fill a fuel tank at a filling station. People usually leave their cars at home overnight, which is a great opportunity to charge the battery.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: we don't fuel gas cars at home

        AT home? Or NEAR their home? Not everyone has driveways or even OWN their residences.

        Plus, you may not get it so much in the tiny UK, but the US is BIG, and road trips are pretty common. You're gonna need a way to handle long distances by way of "refueling" stations, and the design of the batteries may not be conducive to a swap-out.

  13. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Street parking

    Home charging assumes that the car owner has at least a driveway. I wonder what percentage of car owners would be able to charge their car at home? Not a great proportion would be my bet. You can't realistically drop a cable from an 18th story window to the parking area of the apartment block. So most people will not get an electric car unless and until they are confident that there are sufficient public charging points that they won't end up unable to drive to work.

    I have to park in either a shared private car park or on the street. The nearest car charging point is 15 miles from my home - and there are only two of them. Thus an electric car is not a feasible proposition for me.

    1. gotes

      Re: Street parking

      At least where I live, it seems the local council are willing to paint "Reserved for EV" spaces right outside your door.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old news?

    What's all this allegedly-new stuff telling us that My Electric Avenue didn't already tell us three or four years ago?

    "The My Electric Avenue Project was delivered between January 2013 and December 2015 by EA Technology on behalf of Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) as part of the Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund suite of innovation projects"

    ...

    "How local electricity networks can cope with charging clusters of electric vehicles - My Electric Avenue’s final results reveal all…

    • Across Britain 32% of local electricity networks (312,000 circuits) will require intervention when 40% - 70% of customers have EVs

    • New technology could reduce the cost by around £2.2 billion up to 2050"

    ...

    My Electric Avenue is a three-year Ofgem-funded project that has been carrying out trials to discover the impact that charging clusters of electric vehicles (EVs) might have on local electricity networks at peak times.

    [etc]

    See

    http://myelectricavenue.info/

    Or take this as an oversimplified starting point: given a practical domestic charger, and a practical domestic EV, most folks EV's will need to charge for very very roughly as long as they have been driven. Obviously that doesn't cover all cases, but it's a good guideline for lots of them. If you drive for an hour a day, you need to recharge for an hour at home (less if a fast charger is available at work, at supermarket, on high street car parks, etc).

  15. DougS Silver badge

    Now you won't be laughing at us crazy Americans

    With our 200A or 400A breaker panels in most new construction. I recall more than once reading comments from non-Americans wondering why in the world we needed so much electricity. Guess we were just planning ahead and didn't know it :)

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Now you won't be laughing at us crazy Americans

      The US has half the voltage.

      200A at 110V is 22kW

      100A at 230V is 23kW

      Transmission losses scale as the cube of the current, double the current and you quadruple transmission losses.

      - Though it isn't that simple as the US tends to use local poletop transformers each feeding one or two homes while the UK generally uses local substations feeding 30 or 40 homes.

      Finally, many US homes have air conditioning which represents a relatively high continuous load. Choosing between charging or heating/cooling is probably not a useful tradeoff.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Now you won't be laughing at us crazy Americans

        No, the US feeds 230v into those 200A and 400A panels, with two phases of 115v. Combine the two hots and you get 230v, use just one of them and you get the 115 volts that most items in the home use.

        Thus a 200A panel will supply 46 kW, though per code they are supposed to be spec'ed at 80% continuous draw, so you shouldn't draw more than 37 kW for any sustained period of time. In reality it is difficult to draw that much, because you'd have to exactly balance the 115 volt draws on either phase. In practice you'll end up with more on one than the other, so realistically if you think you'll need more than 30 kW for any sustained period of time you should go with the 400A panel.

  16. Tom 7 Silver badge

    In around 1907 it took 3 minutes to turn around an electric bus with a new battery

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23531420-600-how-crooks-stalled-the-rise-of-electric-cars-for-100-years/

    if we cant improve on that....

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: In around 1907 it took 3 minutes to turn around an electric bus with a new battery

      If you swap the battery do you swap in single use alkaline cells and chuck out the old one or do you recharge it? If you recharge it how do you do that without imposing the same load on the supply network as recharging in-vehicle?

      Simply swapping batteries only solves part of the problem and quite possibly introduces new ones.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: In around 1907 it took 3 minutes to turn around an electric bus with a new battery

        Swapping batteries allows you to balance out the draw throughout a 24 hour period (assuming there are enough spare battery packs) whereas in vehicle charging means you will hit your peak when there's the most traffic. One of the peak traffic periods is afternoon rush hour, which is also the peak load in summer, so you really don't want to be adding the charging of all those cars on top that peak!

        The chargers at the stations could be controlled so when it gets hot and the load on the grid begins to peak, the charging of those spare batteries shuts off. They could also preferentially charge late at night when grid demand is low and pricing is better. In fact, you could even reverse the flow and discharge the spare batteries to supplement the grid during extreme load situations during heat waves. That would be preferable to overload leading to a blackout, which no one likes when it is 100 degrees out.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: In around 1907 it took 3 minutes to turn around an electric bus with a new battery

          The thing is, peak traffic time also tends to be peak refueling time, meaning the time when you can least afford to charge batteries is also the time you're going to need lots of full batteries PDQ. So many, perhaps, that there's not enough room for them all. I mean, I've seen stations with 12 or even 20 pumps have cars waiting in line outside the entrance and even double-parking desperate for a fillup at the of the workday. They often need their underground tanks refilled every 2-3 days, and we're talking 20,000-gallong tanks plus. Run those figures through your head and figure out just how much energy is transferred in a very busy fueling station every day. Do you really think you can achieve the same volume with battery swaps?

          Frankly, we'd be better off working on a containerized fail-safe reactor module and use the excess from those to make synthetic fuel by sucking up waste products.

  17. Danny Boyd

    I have an excellent solution: charge EVs from portable diesel generators. This way we get emission-free vehicles and no power grid overloads!

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Tesla do this in several locations.

      The UK National Grid has a hige array of thousands of diesel generators used for surging and "black start" capacity.

      It's not as daft as it sounds - large diesel generators are far more efficient than vehicles.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        You could also use natural gas generators, which are even cleaner than diesel/gasoline engines, and equally efficient in large forms. Obviously you would eventually want clean generation, but you can't put up all those turbines and panels overnight.

        I'm not sure how much natural gas the UK has, but the US has more than we know what to do with as a byproduct of fracking. Other than older areas of the NE, the US has a very well developed nationwide natural gas pipeline system so this would be quite practical as a short/medium term measure to supplement the grid for EVs until everyone has solar panels on their rooftop and will never use the grid to charge it except on long trips.

  18. bin

    I may be missing something here, but all these lovely bits of copper trailing across paths and drives are surely going to attract the attention of 'collectors' who'll just be able to either unplug or use bolt croppers and heavy duty rubber underwear. After all they target railway lines already, this should be like taking unhealthy sugar based products from a non-gender specific infant.

  19. WereWoof

    Already had at least 3 power cuts here this last 6 months, the portents for Electric vehicles are Ohminous , , , , ,

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EA Technology

    Sooooo...we should expect shit servers on day one, season passes and incremental annual upgrades?

  21. Pat Harkin

    Recharging on my home supply?

    Can't I just have a Mr Fusion?

  22. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Yes, so far just some promising lab results (and we all know how that can work out IRL), but still interesting:

    Adding a bit of asphalt speeds lithium battery charging by 20 times

    Charging fast(er) would make things easier.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But doesn't that raise the risk of things DIScharging faster, as in higher risk of thermal runaways?

  23. Jtom Bronze badge

    The existing grid cannot support widespread use of EVs. There are no plans to upgrade the grid, so the assumption must be that those in power have no intention of the masses using EVs. Yet they have announced an ultimate ban on ICEs. Connect the dots, people. The intent is to get the masses out of cars and onto mass transit, without the politically untenable position of saying the average person is banned from owning a car. All they need do is require separate metering, then charge more than people can afford.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Connect the dots, people. The intent is to get the masses out of cars and onto mass transit, without the politically untenable position of saying the average person is banned from owning a car."

      Except there are plenty of places where mass transit doesn't exist yet the essentials are too far away (or the weather too inclement) for walking, meaning it's own a car or bust. Plus what about all those people who regularly go places not serviced by mass transit?

  24. ThatOne Silver badge

    Electric cars are a rich man's problem. As people already pointed out, having one supposes you have a nice individual home with a driveway, and at work you can use the directors' parking space.

    How is the average person who lives in a cramped European city and who parks his car (somewhere) in the streets, both at home and at work, supposed to charge it? Charging stations? Ridiculous, when electric cars become mandatory and there is a million of them in any bigger city, what are your chances of finding an empty slot for your car? At the time and location you need it?

    All current (no pun intended) car charging solutions only work if electric cars remain a vanishingly small toy for upper-income people. They don't scale. Not as long as charging takes that long and needs to be done that often.

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