A smart grid for the Isle of Wight and cable-free electric car charging stations, two important rehearsals for the UK's low carbon revolution, are being launched.
In London, the UK's first Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) trial, backed by David Cameron and Boris Johnson, is expected to start in early 2012 and will involve up to 50 electric vehicles (EVs).
The technology employs Qualcomm's wireless inductive power transfer that enables high-efficiency charging across a large air gap - although it doesn't say what losses are incurrec by using this method as opposed to plugging in.
It makes charging an electric car at home or in an organisation's parking space a breeze. The driver simply parks the vehicle in the usual way and the system automatically aligns for power transfer, making parking easier and charging hassle free.
The trial will be based partially in Tech City, the East London cluster, and companies such as vehicle manufacturers are being invited to participate by registering their interest at www.qualcomm.com/wireless-ev-charging.
Prime Minister David Cameron called it “a giant leap forward for the electric car industry", saying he is "delighted that London businesses will be among the first to benefit".
"Creative, high-tech advances such as this are extremely important as we work to rebalance our economy," he added, "and the decision to trial this at Tech City shows confidence in the UK as an ideal place for innovation and investment.”
Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Transport, commented that the trial is "a great example of how vehicle recharging could work in the future".
The project supplements the £30 million Government fund from the Technology Strategy Board and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to kick-start installation of recharging points in eight areas across the country.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said he wants London to be “the electric car epicentre of Europe".
"We are already on this path with Transport for London delivering a citywide charging network,” he added.
Andrew Gilbert, executive vice president of European Innovation Development at Qualcomm said, “Wireless charging eradicates the EV plug-in cable and makes charging of electric vehicles simple and easy for drivers”.
A Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging steering committee, containing representatives from TfL, the Mayor’s office and central government will be set up to oversee the trial.
Incidentally, a fascinating new film, called Revenge of the Electric car, is being premiered this month, telling the tale of the fightback of electric car enthusiasts against the oil industry which tried to kill the idea.
It shows Tesla CEO Elon Musk putting his personal fortune on the line, Bob Lutz, GM's Vice Chair, staking the GM brand on the very technology it once tried to destroy, Nissan's CEO, Carlos Ghosn, backing a car almost no one believed could happen, and an ordinary enthuisiast who proves you can convert a car yourself.
Welcome to EcoIsland
Meanwhile, an entire British island is launching its bid to become self-sustaining in energy, water and waste treatment.
The Isle of Wight’s EcoIsland project is the largest single sustainability project in the UK.
On 15 November, next week, The Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Oliver Letwin will help to kickstart the EcoIsland Partnership Community Interest Company (CIC), which will establish a Global Innovation Centre for Smart Grid technology to connect every building on the island to renewable energy generators.
Working with Global Partners IBM and Toshiba, it plans to join up both the current and future wind, tidal, geothermal and solar power generators on the island.
The Smart Grid initiative is a crucial part of the Isle of Wight’s aim to become the first truly sustainable region of the UK.
It also expects residents' fuel bills to reduce by up to 50%.
David Green, the CIC's CEO said: “The Isle of Wight community needs to act quickly to avert the possibility of black-outs from increased demands on the UK's electricity generation capacity.
"We are looking to use the Island’s natural resources to make it self sufficient in terms of energy, food, water, fuel and waste, enabling the community to take its destiny back into its own hands”.
Since February 2011 EcoIsland has raised the first tranche of the £200m private funding that is required to achieve its goals, and set up partnership agreements with Cable & Wireless; Scottish & Southern Electric (SSE), as Distribution Network Operator and energy supplier; ITM Power, providing energy storage and clean fuel production in the form of hydrogen for commercial and private vehicles, and Southern Water, which also aims to have a zero energy footprint through the development of renewable energy.
It has already spent £25m installing photovoltaic modules and 500 air-source heat pumps on 3,500 social houses and pioneered the use of a 'Greenback' discount card backed by 65 local companies, which helps its 142,000 residents save up to £400/yr.
By 2020 it wants the island to become a net exporter of energy and to have created hundreds of green tech jobs, as well as cutting the amount of waste it sends to landfill to zero and to stop exporting its waste off the island, in order to take full responsibility for all of its residents' needs.