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Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging set for Trials in Edinburgh

Ross Kelly

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electric vehicle charging

Britain’s first wireless charging hub for light commercial vehicles will be installed at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus next year.

A groundbreaking new project is set to explore the benefits of wireless electric vehicle charging in Edinburgh next year.

Heriot-Watt University, Flexible Power Systems (FPS) and the City of Edinburgh Council have been awarded £1.6 million in funding as part of the initiative.

Funded by the Office for Low-Emission Vehicles, the project hopes to accelerate the UK’s transition to electric vehicles in commercial fleets by reducing charging costs and greatly accelerating the charging process.

Researchers said the project hopes to underline the potential of wireless electric vehicle charging in shared logistics hubs, where fulfilment functions can be carried out alongside charging. Long-term, wireless charging technology has the potential to improve vehicle turnaround times, deliver cost savings and boost staff productivity.

Michael Ayres, Managing Director of FPS, commented: “Productivity drivers and longer journeys mean commercial vehicles may need to charge away from the depot or at high speeds during the day.

“Rapid and ultra-rapid chargers required for a fast turnaround make up less than 25% of publicly available chargers and can be difficult to access if they are in use or out of service.”

Ayres added: “The project uses powerful wireless charging to shorten the length of time vehicles need to be in the charging hubs. At the same time, we are investigating adding basic fulfilment capabilities to improve the productivity of logistics vehicles visiting the hubs.”

As part of the project, Britain’s first wireless charging hub for light commercial vehicles will be installed at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus next year to service specially-adapted vans from Edinburgh Council and Heriot-Watt’s estate team.

High-powered wireless electric vehicle charging is expected to have considerable benefits for commercial vehicle users. As well as commercial savings, benefits include the removal of cables which both require maintenance and pose a trip hazard for workers at logistics hubs.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Edinburgh council’s Transport and Environment Convener, said the project will help further accelerate the use of electric vehicles across the Council’s fleet.

She said: “We are committed to supporting the use of sustainable, low emission travel and continue to replace vehicles with cleaner models wherever possible.

“Our own Electric Vehicle Action Plan will result in a significant increase in charging points across the city which, alongside projects such as this, will help encourage the take-up of electric vehicles as a low carbon, environmentally-friendly transport choice.”

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Professor Phil Greening, Co-director of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight, based at Heriot-Watt, added: “While highly utilised shared infrastructure and collaboration have great potential to reduce the costs of decarbonising road freight, there are complex scheduling and commercial trade-offs to be considered.

“The modelling tools and approaches developed in our Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded research at the Centre, combined with the collaboration we’ve undertaken with FPS over the last two years will both be key to untangling these challenges and making sure this potential is realised.”

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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