RECOVAS End-of-Life Electric Vehicle Supply Chain Project

RECOVAS End-of-Life Electric Vehicle Supply Chain Project

A new project RECOVAS wants to create a circular end-of-life supply chain for the electric vehicle industry.

The project, led by EMR, has won grant support from the UK Government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre.

RECOVAS is a partnership between WMG Based at University of Warwick, EMR, Bentley Motors, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, the Health and Safety Executive, the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, Autocraft Solutions Group and Connected Energy.

The project will start in January 2021 and will run for three years, by which time the partners expect the circular supply chain to be operating commercially.

Remanufacturing is the process of repairing and re-engineering existing batteries so they could potentially be used in new cars.

Reuse involves giving batteries a second life in stationary storage to help balance the use of the electricity grid during peak use and optimise the use of renewable energy and other applications.

The new supply chain will help all partners to triage batteries when they arrive at approved end-of-life vehicle treatment facilities across the UK for either remanufacturing, reuse or – where this is not possible – recycling.

Professor David Greenwood, chief executive of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, WMG, University of Warwick, said: “Delivery of end-of-life provision for electric vehicle batteries is a strategic necessity for the UK, and this project will establish its first full scale facility.

“Without proper provision, end of life batteries could become a major safety and environmental concern.

“This project will implement state-of-the art recycling methods to meet and exceed the requirements of the current regulations.

“In addition, we will conduct research into new processes which could make the recovery of a much higher proportion of the battery material economically feasible.

“In doing so we will reduce the need for mining and refining of critical materials and we will reduce the carbon footprint of future electric vehicles.

“WMG is delighted to be at the core of this project, and we look forward to its delivery.”

The government is supporting RECOVAS as part of a £49m investment in technologies that will help the automotive industry to “go green”.

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JCB launches Latest Electric Vehicles

JCB launches Latest Electric Vehicles

JCB has launched a number of new of electric products as it expands its range of zero-emissions machines.

The wraps have come off four new electric machines at the company’s headquarters in Staffordshire at its first virtual product launch.

The unveiling came on the day that the UK Government outlined its ten-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

A JCB spokesman said: “JCB is supportive of the UK Government’s ambitious plans to make strides towards net zero by 2050 and the JCB products unveiled today will play a crucial role in the future as JCB strives to achieve zero emissions as part of its Road to Zero programme.”

One of the vehicles unveiled is a Loadall telescopic handler, a machine which is used for lifting and placing loads on construction sites and on farms.

The launch of the 525-60E – which is fully electric – comes 43 years after JCB first launched its diesel-powered Loadall range.

Chief innovation officer Tim Burnhope added: “JCB has taken a pioneering lead in the move to electric propulsion in construction, agricultural and industrial machinery, having already successfully launched an electric mini excavator and electric forklift to the market.

“We are delighted to be launching more electric machines with no compromise in performance or productivity.

“We are very excited about the prospects for new our electric range.”

JCB also unveiled a one tonne site dumper for transporting loads around construction sites and a walk behind mini dumper as well as a new version of its electric mini excavator.

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What will be the effect of electric vehicles (Ev) on the grid and transport networks

What will be the effect of electric vehicles (Ev) on the grid and transport networks

What effect will electrifying the car fleet have on the power industry? How often will cars be recharged, what additional load will this place on the grid, and where might the need for charging expose capacity restrictions on the network? Dr Laurence Chittock, Transport Modeller at PTV Group, considers the issues

In 2019 the UK government declared a climate emergency and committed to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. With transport accounting for more emissions than any other UK sector, the government’s Road to Zero strategy provides a pathway for the phasing out of combustion engines and a transition to electrified mobility. This is underpinned by a legislated ban on new petrol and diesel cars, previously set at 2040 but brought forward to 2030 in a recent announcement.

Such a ban will create a major challenge for the auto industry, with massive changes required to build enough batteries and shift manufacturing and supply chains. But what effect will electrifying the car fleet have on the power industry?

A single EV can double a household’s electricity demand, so if uptake is initially clustered in certain neighbourhoods, then smart planning is required to mitigate the impacts on the local electricity network. And what level of public charging is required? For those that can’t charge at home their reliance on a public network is critical, so where might they charge and how often?

Balancing supply and demand

These sorts of questions raise issues for investors, public bodies, transport planners, and electricity network planners alike. If infrastructure rollout isn’t planned with both demand and supply in mind, we risk creating an imbalance.

This might create inequalities in who can and can’t drive EVs, for instance between those who have a driveway and those who don’t. By integrating transport models with electricity network models, we can explore these challenges and questions.

Transport models are used widely across the planning industry to support important policy and investment decisions, including for public transport upgrades, road and junction modifications, cycling infrastructure, and pedestrian access.

Inherent in these models is an understanding and representation of the movement of people and vehicles, based on what we know about where people live, and where and how they might choose to travel. This information is vital to understanding future charging infrastructure requirements.

Car distances and patterns are a key requisite for EV energy calculations and the detailed spatial and temporal data in a transport model can help us understand where infrastructure might be needed, and who is likely to be reliant on it.

A set of plausible scenarios have been developed for the project and are centred on two critical uncertainties: EV uptake and public charging provision. The four scenarios explore these uncertainties, helping to understand what might happen if strong EV uptake does or doesn’t materialise, and if widespread public infrastructure is or isn’t installed ahead of need

Pace of change

Although electric vehicle sales are growing, the pace of this change is far from certain and will be influenced by a range of factors, including automotive capacity and costs, consumer choice, political factors such as Brexit, and underlying economic conditions.

With so much uncertainty, scenario planning is crucial to determine what sorts of futures might play out or to help guide progression to a desired future. Such scenarios can then be tested in a model to highlight potential impacts, understand where and how infrastructure can be planned, and enable decisions to be made with the least regret.

These issues and more are being explored in an ongoing project called Charge, involving a consortium of companies led by SP Energy Networks; with EA Technology, Smarter Grid Solutions and transport modelling software company PTV Group. The project aims to facilitate the provision of public infrastructure ahead of time by marrying transport demand patterns from a set of scenario-based models and local electricity network capacity.

Plausible scenarios

A series of plausible scenarios have been developed for the project and represent the collective view from a range of experts across the transport and energy industries. In each one, factors were collectively assessed to anticipate EV uptake, future vehicle range, battery efficiency, and infrastructure options. These scenarios are currently being tested in a transport model covering the Manweb region, providing a tool to understand the potential needs of future electric vehicles.

Level of infrastructure required

The vision-based scenario ‘On Course for Net Zero’ allows us to explore the level of infrastructure required to reach staged carbon reduction targets from 2025 onwards. The ‘Driveway to Electrification’ scenario suggests the requirement for public infrastructure given most people can charge at home.

Conversely, if we wish to avoid this future, we can see what level of infrastructure is needed to support those without a driveway. The detail in these models can thus help both investors, who wish to maximise their utilisation, and local authorities, who want to understand how to support a rapid, yet equitable transition.

Given EVs will significantly increase our demand for electricity, understanding what this will mean for the electricity network is vital for the operators. If they understand where additional demand may manifest, they can see if their existing capacity and supply is sufficient.

In areas where capacity is lacking, they need to identify the business case for investing in network upgrades ahead of time. By understanding future requirements for charging infrastructure today, the electricity network can be planned to facilitate EV usage in the coming years. By understanding the uncertainty the future holds, these decisions can also be made with future-proofing in mind.

The results from this study will be made available on a free-to-use online tool called ConnectMore, due to be released next year. Key insights about charging demand from the transport model and scenarios can be explored alongside detailed data on electricity network capacity. Combined, this will show where connections to the grid can be made at the lowest cost, guiding investment and planning decisions, and helping speed up the necessary transition to a decarbonised future.

This image shows an early development view of the ConnectMore tool with substation capacity overlayed with zonal EV charging demand. Future versions will show capacity data down to feeder level and charging demand broken down by location type, dwell time metrics, and energy demand.

This image shows an early development view of the ConnectMore tool with substation capacity overlayed with zonal EV charging demand. Future versions will show capacity data down to feeder level and charging demand broken down by location type, dwell time metrics, and energy demand.

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BEIS announces £183m funding round for electric vehicles and cleantech start-ups

BEIS announces £183m funding round for electric vehicles and cleantech start-ups

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has allocated new multi-million-pound funding pots to cleantech innovators, including companies developing AI for wind turbines and high-power batteries for electric cars.

New multi-million-pound funding pots to cleantech innovators, including companies developing AI for wind turbines and high-power batteries for electric cars.

Tuesday 3 November saw the Department confirm its plans for spending £49m on the UK’s electric mobility sector, to help prevent transport emissions rebounding post-lockdown and to create new jobs in the field.

  • Some £10m of the pot is being allocated as part of the Automotive Transformation Fund;
  • £29m has been earmarked for projects creating a bigger market for second-life electric vehicle (EV) batteries;
  • and the remaining £10m will be spent on improving automation technologies to improve EV charging.

Recipients include Nissan, which will create automated charging infrastructure at its Sunderland manufacturing plant, and the BSA Company, which is developing a “true retro motorcycle” with a battery-powered engine. AMTE Power has also received a share to scale up its EV battery cell production line in Thurso, Scotland, while TALGA will be supported to develop EV batteries capable of delivering longer ranges.

Wrightbus is additionally getting support to scale up its hydrogen bus operations.Aberdeen City Council and Birmingham City Council recently began real-world trials of the innovative buses.

The Advanced Propulsion Centre’s chief executive Ian Constance said the funding “demonstrates the real and ongoing commitment of government and industry working together to advance the UK’s vibrant automotive technology development sector towards a fully electrified future”.

Cleantech boost

Then, on 4 November, BEIS outlined how Innovate UK will be allocating the next round of its Sustainable Innovation Fund, totalling £134m. A total of 1,068 projects have received a share and the maximum amount allocated to one project is £175,000.

Bristol-based marine firm Rovoco, which is developing technologies to assist autonomous underwater inspections for wind turbines, is among the recipients. Offshore wind is the only renewable energy sub-sector with a Sector Deal in the UK. Boris Johnson sees offshore wind playing a larger role than onshore renewables in the UK’s net-zero transition.

Other funding recipients include Welsh firm KegTracker, which uses AI to reduce keg waste from pubs and bars and seaweed-based materials innovator Oceanium.

“The UK’s response to coronavirus has demonstrated the very best of British ingenuity, and it is this resourcefulness that will help us navigate our way through this pandemic,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma said.

“Today’s investment will ensure that our innovators and risk-takers can continue to scale up their ideas, helping the UK to build back better and ensure we meet our clear commitments on tackling climate change.”

Since Covid-19 was officially declared a pandemic, UKRI and BEIS have also allocated significant funding pots to R&D in the fields of geothermal energy, heat recovery networks and efficient construction.

It is clear that innovation will play a role in the green recovery movement, but opinion differs on the extent of its importance and the processes governments will adopt. Capgemini is urging nations to focus on innovations with a “high impact” on climate mitigation, including bifacial solar panels, battery storage and deep retrofits.  The IEA has argued that some 75% of the emissions reductions necessary to meet net-zero are dependent on technologies which have not yet reached commercial maturity, while Project Drawdown has outlined scenarios in which the majority of emissions reductions are delivered by technologies, systems and processes which already exist.

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Green number plates for electric vehicles set for UK rollout

Green number plates for electric vehicles set for UK rollout

The UK Government will press forward with plans to fit electric vehicles (EVs) with special green number plates this autumn, following successful trials.

The plates will first be applied to new zero-emission vehicles this autumn.  Consultations into the move first began last October, with the Department for Transport (DfT) claiming that different plates would make EVs easily recognisable to local authorities and businesses wishing to incentivise low-carbon transport through discounted parking schemes and low-emission zones.

The DfT also believes that, by businesses and members of the general public being able to easily tell how many EVs are on the streets, they will recognise that a “greener transport future is within our grasp”.

The plates will be rolled out starting in autumn and will be recognisable by a green flash on the left-hand side. Only vehicles classed as “zero-emission” will be covered and new cars will receive the plates before a retrofit scheme is developed.

It has not yet been confirmed whether the Government or motorists will pay for the plates, nor how much Government funding is being allocated to the scheme. However, the move will fall under the Government’s broader Covid-19 recovery plan, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Tuesday (16 June). Full details of the plan are expected by the end of the month.

It is worth noting than several local authorities are delaying plans for clean air zones and EV initiatives as a result of the pandemic, as a result of having to divert resources to crisis planning and as journey numbers fall.

Responding to the announcement, the RAC said: “While this is well-intentioned, we don’t believe green number plates on their own will do much to make people switch to an electric car.

“We’d much prefer the Government looked at things like bringing in the right financial incentives.”

Further funding and past planning

To complement the announcement on licence plates, the DfT has unveiled a further £12m of funding for projects working to decarbonise the road transport sector, to be made available through the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

£10m will be spent on a new innovation competition for zero-emission vehicles, which will allocate funding to organisations in the EV, charging infrastructure and hydrogen vehicle sector. The deadline for this competition is 29 July.

The remaining £2m will be directly provided to UK SMEs that are researching zero-emission vehicles.

This funding builds on a string of initiatives announced at March’s Budget. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged £500m for fast-charging networks for EVs, allocated £403m to extend the Plug-in Grant for cars through to 2023 and set aside £129.5m for grants for taxis, vans and motorcycles.

Further funding is expected once the DfT it finishes developing roadmaps for decarbonising “every single mode of transport” in line with the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

However, Conservative Ministers have received much criticism in recent times for their handling of the decarbonisation of the transport sector, which overtook energy as the most-emitting in the UK in 2016. The Road To Zero strategy, published in 2018, was rubbished by the official climate change watchdog and by key figures across the green economy. The Government has since pledged to bring the 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales forward to 2035 but will only officially change the law at the now-delayed COP26 summit.

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