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Issue #82 - Communal renewable energy in Cornwall, Wireless charging for EVS, a plane with no moving parts, and why we don't need baseload power

The EV Musings Newsletter
Issue #82 - Communal renewable energy in Cornwall, Wireless charging for EVS, a plane with no moving parts, and why we don't need baseload power
By Gary Comerford • Issue #82 • View online
This is the 82nd issue of the EV Musings newsletter.
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This Week's Podcast.
The EV Musings Podcast: 134 - The National Grid Episode
The EV Musings Podcast: 135 - The Clickbait Article Episode
Top Five EV/ Renewable Stories.
Cornish Village to Pilot Communal Grid to Source Low Carbon Energy
Until now, Stithians, which sits halfway between Redruth and Falmouth, was best known for its annual show, said to be the largest agricultural spectacle in Cornwall. For years Brian Piper has been educating local parishes about the threat of global heating. In 2017 he formed the Stithians Energy Group, producing pamphlets.
“We talked about climate change, from the very basics right through to net-zero Britain. One of the things that we featured was heat pumps,” he said. But the problem with ground source heat pumps is the cost. They come in at around £20,000 depending on the size of the property, and that has been a deterrent for people
One of the members of the energy group worked for Cornish firm Kensa Utilities, whose factory three miles from the village is the only UK producer of ground source heat pumps. Now Stithians is part of a multi-million-pound pilot project to link their homes to the underground low-carbon energy system.
MIT Engineers Fly First-Ever Plane With No Moving Parts
MIT engineers have built and flown the first-ever plane with no moving parts. Instead of propellers or turbines, the light aircraft is powered by an “ionic wind” — a silent but mighty flow of ions that is produced aboard the plane, and that generates enough thrust to propel the plane over a sustained, steady flight. Unlike turbine-powered planes, the aircraft does not depend on fossil fuels to fly. And unlike propeller-driven drones, the new design is completely silent.
About nine years ago, Steven Barrett, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, started looking for ways to design a propulsion system for planes with no moving parts. He eventually came upon “ionic wind,” also known as electroaerodynamic thrust — a physical principle that was first identified in the 1920s and describes a wind, or thrust, that can be produced when a current is passed between a thin and a thick electrode. If enough voltage is applied, the air in between the electrodes can produce enough thrust to propel a small aircraft
The team’s final design resembles a large, lightweight glider. The aircraft, which weighs about 5 pounds and has a 5-meter wingspan, carries an array of thin wires, which are strung like horizontal fencing along and beneath the front end of the plane’s wing. The wires act as positively charged electrodes, while similarly arranged thicker wires, running along the back end of the plane’s wing, serve as negative electrodes
New Research Suggests Charging Anxiety Due to Human Insecurity Rather Than EV Network
New research from Volkswagen Financial Services UK (VWFS) suggests that one of the main perceived barriers to owning an electric car might be caused by a modern obsession with needing fully charged personal devices. The research shows that more than half of Brits (55%) panic if they know their phone or laptop will run out of battery
However, younger people are more convinced than any other generation that electric cars will benefit the environment, with 66% of 18 – 24-year-olds believing this to be true
The research found that three in 10 people (31%) believe there are not enough charging points in the areas where they live and work. However, when we consider the average length of each car journey in the UK is fewer than 10 miles, Volkswagen suggested this could be another reflection of the nation’s skewed attitudes toward battery life
We Don’t Need Base Load Power
Base load power may supply the electricity in the middle of the night in many cases, but power from other sources could be used instead. The issue is not technical. It is just a matter of cost. If something came along that could provide that electricity cheaper and better, we could use it instead and save money. (Spoiler: something has.)
Obviously, since base load plants cannot adjust for changes in demand, there have to be other power plants that perform that job. They include load-following plants, along with some other types. They supply all of the electricity we use in excess of the minimum. The problem we have with them is that the electricity they generate costs a lot more than base load power.
So, the reason we use baseload power plants is not that they are required technically, but because we have wanted them to keep costs down
One thing to consider is that while neither near-firm solar nor near-firm wind power would get us through every night reliably by itself, based on the definition for near-firm, a combination of the two could be designed to do that easily for most places, most of the time. This is because solar and wind power are generally complimentary; wind power is strongest at night and in the winter, and solar is only productive during the daytime and generally most productive during the summer. And if there is insufficient power from those two sources, other renewable energy sources are available, including hydro-power, tidal power, biomass, geothermal, and others. And long-range transmission lines can bring power in from other parts of the country.
Why Wireless Charging Matters for Electric Cars
If you’ve cut the cord for your smartphone with a charging pad for the bedside table and one in the car—and, if you’re lucky—wireless CarPlay or Android Auto—you likely get the idea of what a game-changer wireless inductive charging could be for electric cars. 
Instead of trying to juggle a toddler or a bag of groceries while you one-arm a clunky cable and charge connector morning and night, it could simply be a matter of parking, getting on with life, and returning to a charged vehicle
How does wireless EV charging work? In brief, electricity induces a current on a coil of copper wire and emits it at a certain frequency—one not far from FM radio frequencies, for the most likely applications.
That creates an oscillating magnetic field, which is then captured by another copper coil. 
With fine-tuning of the signal depending on the spacing, and help from capacitors—and some core-physics ideas like the idea of resonant frequencies—wireless charging can be made practical for EVs without losing too much energy along the way.
With roughly 85% of charging done at home, this is designed to be the daily charging method, not special-occasion technology for road trips
A cool EV or renewable thing
From Episode 134
One of my first cars was an 850cc Austin Mini which had a 1.3l Morris engine installed. It was fantastic. One of the most fun cars I ever had.
Now it seems that converting minis to electric has become a bit of a thing.
One, in particular, caught my eye.
Mini has come up with something really special, an EV conversion of the 1998 Mini Paul Smith Edition, a limited-run model built in 1,500 units.
The engine is replaced with a 72kW motor and the interior features a radically minimalist approach inspired by last year’s Mini Strip Concept (also designed by Sir Paul Smith). The cabin deliberately lacks trim parts, with the body shell exposing its bare, unclad floor pan, while the rustic floor mats are made of recycled rubber on top.
The vehicle also features sustainable materials, a removable steering wheel, and a magnet next to it that accommodates the smartphone, which replaces almost all the old buttons and functions on the dashboard.
Click the link to check out the look of this vehicle which has a lovely paint job and some fantastic interior design features.
From Episode 135
Long-time listeners to the podcast will know that I’ve termed the phrase The Charging Wastelands to describe those areas of the country where EV charging is, shall we say, less bountiful than elsewhere. One of these specific wastelands is North Yorkshire.
So I was very glad to learn that North Yorkshire county council have thrown their hat in the ring to get government funding for 70 chargers to be installed in rural areas around the county. It’s part of the recently announced £400m Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Fund.
The charging points would be powered by renewable energy, including small-scale hydroelectric generators and solar panels linked to battery storage. The £2m they’re after would enable the council to address the challenge of poor connectivity and the resulting lack of opportunities for communities in rural areas of North Yorkshire.
I can’t see this funding a huge number of rapid or high-powered chargers, but even a set of well-located and well-signposted destination chargers would help.
Great work, North Yorkshire
Something To Think About.
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What's in the mystery box this week? Click it and see.
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Gary Comerford

Topical stories about renewables, EVs and things that are interesting to EV drivers.

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