Could wireless charging boost EV use?

Groups across the UK are exploring the feasibility of wireless charging as a means of encouraging the country’s drivers to turn to electric vehicles.

27 feasibility studies are looking into the prospect of wireless charging for EV users in the first phase of a £40m innovation programme funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV),  in conjunction with Innovate UK.

The projects, which will analyse the application and impact of innovative technologies for EV charging, ultimately aim to help identify charging structures that will make owning an electric vehicle a more appealing prospect for road users.

One project is by energy solutions experts UK Power Networks Services, which is working with UPS, High Speed 1 and WMG to investigate the possibility of rolling out wireless charging in commercial fleets on London’s roads.

The company’s director said that wireless charging has the potential to make electric vehicle fleets cheaper while tackling the issue of wired charging in limited physical spaces.

UK Power Networks Services’ director, Ian Smyth said: ‘We believe that the lack of wireless charging projects in the UK is primarily the result of many users considering this technology immature or lacking a strong business case.

‘Wireless charging could allow drivers to stay in their vehicles and create a safer, more secure vehicle with greater productivity and lower cost. With so many potential benefits, commercial enterprises need to understand the case for wireless charging better.’

UK Power Networks Services’ study is testing the deployment of wireless charging in three scenarios – in UPS vans at their Tamworth depot, in electric taxis waiting outside St. Pancras International station and in UK Power Services’ own electric vans.

With transport accounting for around 20% of London’s CO2 emissions, it is hoped that the introduction of low emissions vehicles will significantly improve air quality in the capital and further afield, while helping Europe push towards the EU aim of net zero emissions by 2050.

One of eight other studies looking at wireless EV charging for commercial users as part of OLEV’s competition includes Cenex’s ‘WiCET’ project, which is looking into wireless charging for electric taxis and emergency service vehicles – also with WMG’s involvement.

18 other projects are looking at the feasibility of wireless EV charging infrastructure in public spaces.

‘Wireless charging of electric vehicles offers many potential benefits to the end user,’ said Dr Stewart Birrell, associate professor, WMG at the University of Warwick.

‘However, in order for these benefits to be realised, these requirements need to be captured and designed into the technical solutions from the outset.’

Both of the above projects commenced this month and will last for three months until March of this year.

The best projects from the 27 feasibility studies will compete in a second phase of funding to implement their technology in a large-scale demonstration.


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