Swedish electrified road could cuts costs of EV charging

An electrified road in Sweden that is the first in the world to charge vehicles as they drive along could substantially cut the cost of developing electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Reuters reports that the road with project backers Vattenfall and Elways telling Reuters why it represents good news for the EV sector.
An electrified road in Sweden with truck using it
The state-funded project, named eRoadArlanda and costing about $5.82m, uses a modified electric truck that moves cargo from Stockholm’s Arlanda airport to Postnord’s nearby logistics hub to test the technology. 

An electrified rail embedded in the tarmac of the 2-km-long (1.24 miles) road charges the truck automatically as it travels above it. A movable arm attached to the truck detects the rail’s location in the road, and charging stops when the vehicle is overtaking or coming to a halt. 

The system also calculates the vehicle’s energy consumption, which enables electricity costs to be debited per vehicle and user. 

Elways’ chief executive Gunnar Asplund said the charging while driving would mean electric cars no longer need big batteries — which can be half the cost of an electric car — to ensure they have enough power to travel a useful distance. 

“The technology offers infinite range — range anxiety disappears” he said. “Electrified roads will allow smaller batteries and can make electric cars even cheaper than fossil fuel ones.” 

Asplund said the Swedish state, which is funding the project, was happy with the results so far, with the only issue — now resolved — having been dirt accumulating on the rail.

Elways has patented the electric rail technology and is part of a Swedish consortium backing the eRoadArlanda project that also includes infrastructure company NCC and utility Vattenfall, which provides power from the national grid to the rail. 

“Such roads will allow (electric vehicles) to move long distances without big, costly and heavy batteries,” said Markus Fischer, a Vattenfall spokesman, adding that installing the arm in new cars would be cheaper than retrofitting current models. 

Vattenfall said in a statement electrified roads could reduce carbon dioxide emissions from lorries, which account for about 25 percent of total road traffic emissions. 

“The investment cost per kilometer is estimated to be less than that of using overhead lines, as is the impact on the landscape,” it added. 

Testing at eRoadArlanda started in April and will last at least 12 months so that the electric truck can use it under different weather conditions.


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Enel homes in on thermal energy of the future with innovation hub

Enel has inaugurated its global thermal generation innovation hub and lab in Pisa, Italy. The hub will house technology partners and start-ups that work with it on the evolution of the thermal generation of the future.

The Pisa Innovation Hub&Lab will see, Enel, together with start-ups and other partners on the development, testing and implementation of innovative technologies of interest to thermal generation, such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT), big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, and technologies to support safety and the environment.
Enel logo
The event was opened by Enrico Viale, Enel’s Head of Global Thermal Generation and Ernesto Ciorra, Enel’s Head of Innovation and Sustainability (Innovability), together with Eugenio Giani, President of the Council of the Tuscany Region and Giuseppe Forte, Councillor of the City of Pisa.

Enel global thermal generation head Enrico Viale said: “Our Group already works with the most innovative start-ups to stay in touch with cutting-edge technologies and ideas and, at the same time, to support these companies with our technologies and expertise and find ways to integrate their technological innovations into the fabric of our business.

“The Innovation Hub&Lab of Pisa will be an entry point for new partners and solutions to be introduced at Enel plants to boost our competitiveness and sustainability.”

Enel innovation and sustainability head Ernesto Ciorra said: “In this ‘Innovability’ ecosystem, Italy represents a major pool of innovation, in which Enel is continuing to invest with initiatives aimed at supporting entrepreneurship and technology research.

“During 2018, in Italy alone, Enel will be able to draw on the ideas of three active Innovation Hubs, whose goal is to stimulate cooperation with Italy’s best start-ups.

“The Italian hubs are also interconnected with the international Innovation Hub network that the Group has created in areas with a high rate of innovation around the world, with the aim of encouraging internationalisation and the constant exchange of ideas.”

Working through the Innovation Hubs, Enel collaborates with venture capital funds, accelerators, incubators, universities, major industrial players and government institutions in the constant search for partners to make its business more efficient and support industrial growth by leveraging innovation.


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Going hybrid – the future for data centres

The growing adoption of digitalization has given rise to new forms of competition and lifestyle improvement for end users. However, more digitalisation also presents significant resource and data processing challenges.

Firstly, a data centre strategy that combines hypers-cale and edge computing into one, or chooses one over the other, is neither cost effective or competitive. It is no longer practical for every connected device or application to use the cloud in the same way smartphones do. Consider the millions of connected artificially intelligent devices, medical equipment, manufacturing robots and VR headsets in use today. The strain on network bandwidth and speed that these devices can pose soon makes sense. In short, it is highly likely that the user experience of such devices will rapidly deteriorate if congestion and latency is not addressed.Going hybrid – the future for data centres

This is why a hybrid strategy – one that welcomes both full hyper-scale (centralized) and edge (decentralized) computing – is so important. If the type of product or service offered is not latency or bandwidth-driven (for example, the billing process after a transaction has been made on Amazon) it makes more sense to host it in the server farm that sits out of town away from the user. Low-level processing, backup or storage are other examples to mention.

However, technologies such as drones, driverless cars and connected fridges are latency-driven products that require more “edges” so that the information can be distributed quicker and the distance between device and data narrowed, thus improving the end user experience. These products produce too much data for it to be processed in a location far away. In order to function effectively and meet the demands of the user, the products need immediate results. This is particularly true of driverless cars.

‘Connected things’ will continue to grow in popularity over the coming years, resulting in an abundance of data being created every single day. Data centre providers will play an important role in helping organisations meet new demands as the data boom continues.

To effectively match user expectations, edge computing and hyper-scale technology must work in tandem. This will provide organisations the ability to leverage the best of both worlds in meeting customer needs effectively while lessening the resulting IT workload and operating costs.

The journey towards a fully hybrid future is inevitably on its way. Organisations and data centre providers alike must be ready to embrace the change, the hybrid change.

Jackson Lee is vice-president of corporate development at Colt Data Centre Services

This article is an extract from a longer feature that will appear in PEi magazine later this month. Subscribe now to be sure of receiving your issue.

Digitalization and data are key topics of the conference programme at Electrify Europe in Vienna in June. For more details click here


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Harnessing IT/OT convergence for operational success

Lisa Williams says that in the power industry “the future is meeting the present head on, as a wave of digitalization crashes over industrial control systems that are, in many cases, decades old”.

Williams, who is manager of IT and IIoT services in the US at KBC Advanced Technologies, says that operational excellence for companies increasingly depends on how efficiently their information technology interacts with their operational technology.

“It is important that these two functions aren’t excessively ‘siloed’ – IT/OT convergence is happening and organizational association is the key to its success.”

Williams says critical infrastructure organizations face the double challenge of “conforming with security protection requirements to a very high degree while at the same time maintaining their operational integrity and reliable performance”. 

“In addition to having to cope with cyber threats, today’s grid management is a more complex task than ever. Integration of electric vehicles, smart meters, renewables and a whole host of connected devices provides utilities with an unprecedented challenge. Not only this, but the energy flow is bidirectional – end users are not just consuming power, but also generating and feeding into the grid, through solar for example.

“Operational technology is ubiquitous throughout energy, utilities and manufacturing, however the power industry in particular is one that represents a huge opportunity to foster operational excellence through the alignment of IT and OT functions. It is, after all, an asset-heavy industry on a vast scale with monitors and sensors that track and control both generation and delivery to the end-user.”

Williams says the importance of IT/OT convergence is “really in how it enables monitoring and control of sensors and connected systems on a huge scale. It also makes analyzing the data that these complex systems produce much easier, and can be done anywhere in the world, particularly by harnessing cloud technology.”

However, she stresses that “it’s not solely about converging the technologies themselves. Businesses also need to ensure that the departments and processes are as integrated as possible.

“Power and utility companies must overcome these obstacles and bridge the gap between IT and OT within their businesses.

“As the IIoT revolution continues to gain momentum, further sped up by the soon-to-launch 5G spectrum, there will be a multitude of connected devices, systems and sensors to interact with. Legacy networks simply do not have the capability to deal with this level of demand – instead power companies must look to improve their level of IT/OT integration, if they have not done so already.

“Without it, the undoubted efficiencies and cost savings of the IoT and the smart grid cannot be fully maximized, and more innovative businesses will gain an advantage.”

However, Williams says “there really is an opportunity here to foster operational excellence throughout the company and encourage a more cooperative approach to digitalization within the business. As with any sweeping organizational change within an organization, there is no simple solution to bridging this divide.”

She explains that IT and OT have developed independently but they are now inextricably linked – and the governance and processes of an organization need to reflect this.

“Coordination of IT/OT convergence must come from the senior leadership team, particularly as harmonizing two absolutely crucial business units may create some conflict. But with the next generation of employees making their mark in the industry, organizations that correctly implement training and planning initiatives have the chance to put in place a harmonious working relationship that benefits both parties.

“Not only this, but the strong foundation of IT/OT convergence, while it may be a difficult undertaking in the short term, will put power companies and utilities in a position to field the challenges and opportunities that digitalization will throw at them.”

This article is an extract from a longer exclusive interview that will appear in PEi magazine later this month. Subscribe now to be sure of receiving your issue.

IT/OT convergence is a key topic of the conference programme at Electrify Europe in Vienna in June. For more details click here.

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How to unlock the potential of digitalization

“Everyone says digitalization is important but very few people know how to go about digitizing,” says Susan Peterson-Sturm.

Appointed digital lead of the Power Generation & Water arm of ABB’s Industrial Automation division, Peterson-Sturm is an industrial control leader with 15 years’ experience working with energy companies to scale industrial digital solutions.“Everyone says digitalization is important but very few people know how to go about digitizing,” says Susan Peterson-Sturm.

In an interview with PEi, she says that when it comes to making the change into digitalization, “it starts at the top”.

“Utilities are undergoing a cultural shift towards an information-based digital economy – where primary processes are digitalized – and moving away from the traditional business model that requires heavy investment in physical assets. In the face of this change, chief executives feel there is a real danger of getting left behind if they fail to rally their organization to the new digital order. The drive from leadership is key to the implementation of successful digital projects. It is vital that there is a clear link between any digital project and a company’s strategic priorities.”

She adds that while it is crucial to have a big-picture vision for digital, “companies that are in the lead started with small projects and pilots that quickly delivered tangible results. Results and success drive action and greater cultural adoption of digital solutions on the plant floor. With the organization on board, larger and more ambitious project are easier to execute.”

She also stresses that “it is all about people, process and technology”.

“In digitalization, we talk a lot about technology but not about people and processes.”

She explains that “without changing their business process to get the results that digital solutions offer, companies will have great technology but little else. Digitalization should not make people feel alienated or excluded from the industry’s digital future. Companies need digital programmes, projects and pilots to engage the right stakeholders, which extend beyond operations and often involve information technology, compliance and finance. In other words, remember to bring the right team along on the digital journey.”

She stresses that the so-called digital power plant – “where data meets the physical world and where new opportunities are unlocked for the customer, is not science fiction: it’s already here and able to bring benefits to operators around the world”.

“Increased complexity and flexibility, and new business models, are the new hallmarks of the power sector, which – as with other industries – is seeing changes on an unprecedented scale and pace. Complexity is increasing due to a number of factors, including in the areas of generation, infrastructure, regulations and security.”

She says the new energy landscape requires technologies able to collaborate with operators, especially in the effort to turn the unordered mass of data generated by all equipment installed onsite into meaningful and usable information.

“Within the third industrial revolution, the latest technologies of the time allowed a single operator to keep several areas of a plant under control from a central point, marking the birth of the distributed control system. Now the fourth Industrial revolution is taking automation to an ever more connected level.

“Sensing data and then analyzing it to create insights are two necessary steps of today’s plant operations,” explains Peterson-Strum. “However, realizing these insights in the physical world of a company’s operations – making them actionable, delivering solutions and ‘closing the loop’ – is the crucial third step where customer value creation occurs.”

This article is an extract from a longer exclusive interview that will appear in PEi magazine later this month. Subscribe now to be sure of receiving your issue.

Susan Peterson-Sturm is a speaker in the Artificial Intelligence arena at Electrify Europe in Vienna in June. For more details click here.

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The hunt for the next big thing in energy

“We are investing all the way through the energy space from smart phone to grids to charging infrastructure for electrical vehicles.”

So says Susana Quintana-Plaza of Siemens’ Silicon valley-located innovation unit next47.

next47 was set up to foster disruptive ideas more vigorously and drive innovations and its activities focus on five fields of innovation: artificial intelligence, autonomous machines, distributed electrification, connected mobility and blockchain applications. The number 47 refers to the year Siemens was founded – 1847.

Plaza explains: “next47 is above all a venture capital activity of Siemens. We have €1bn to invest over the next five years in start-ups around the world. We are looking for who we think are the category leading start-ups in the decentralized energy space and looking to invest in them. At the same time our value add is not only to invest in them but to bring them internally to Siemens or to Siemens customers in order to help them scale and grow. Our job is to really focus on who we think are the differentiative new companies in this market.

She highlights some of the companies that next47 is working with: “For example, Tado, the smart thermostat company in Europe, or Atom Power, the solid-state circuit breaker company set to completely change how circuit breakers work today. Also, ChargePoint, which is setting up charging infrastructure all over the world.

“We are also committed to a spin out called APOGEE, which is a winning team spun off from Siemens. They have worked together to build a platform which is an energy-efficient building automation system that facilitates business on top of electric charging.

This business-on-top could be management of the grid or other various business models, so we are doing quite a few things all along the energy value chain. From the home to the grid to areas like monitoring conditioning systems for wind turbines, smart grid and Internet of Things technologies to manage the grid – there’s quite a lot across the spectrum.”

She says she is seeing “a lot of very exciting stuff coming up – IOT innovations that are making the grid smarter and artificial intelligence to increase understanding of supply and demand”.

However, she says “the goal for decentralized generation is to create an industrial supply chain that can serve the end consumer. Today the whole decentralized system is not very sophisticated and that’s the innovation I would look for.”

This article is an extract from a longer exclusive interview that will appear in PEi magazine later this month. Subscribe now to be sure of receiving your issue.

Decentralized energy, artificial intelligence, electric vehicles and blockchain are all key strands of the conference programme at Electrify Europe in Vienna in June. For more details click here.

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REDEN Solar enters the Portuguese market with the acquisition of 50 MW of Solar plants in operation

REDEN Solar, a leading solar IPP from France, has just acquired several existing solar photovoltaic power plants in Portugal, representing a total capacity of 50 MW. The French Solar project developer also announced plans to develop new projects in the country in the coming years.

The company, which already has a strong presence in France and Latin America, has chosen to continue its European development in Portugal, due to favorable economic prospects and the country’s strong commitment to renewable energies. Thanks to the continued support of successive governments in recent years, renewable energy now accounts for 68% of the country’s energy mix, making Portugal one of the countries with the highest renewable energy penetration worldwide.
Solar farm
This commitment to green energy is confirmed by the stated objective of the current Government to reach 80% of renewable energy in the energy mix thanks to the development of photovoltaic energy.

Thierry Carcel, President of REDEN Solar said: "This transaction marks a key milestone in the deployment of the new strategy launched by our Group a year ago with the arrival of two new key shareholders, INFRAVIA and EURAZEO Patrimoine. Our objective is to invest to develop our activities in France and around the world by fully exploiting the Group’s potential. The choice of Portugal is also part of the ambitious approach taken by the State in the promotion and development of the renewable energy sector. Its commitments are now turned into action and their continued implementation plays a key role in investor confidence. Where, following the 2008 crisis, other countries have retroactively challenged their tariffs and caused the long-term departure of investors, the Portuguese government has managed to cope with the extremely difficult economic situation, hence his current credibility. "

REDEN Solar is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, including a year of solid collaboration with its new shareholders, INFRAVIA and EURAZEO Patrimoine. The group is deployed in France and abroad as a pure player by covering and controlling the entire value chain; from development to the holding and operation of solar power plants. The facilities developed to date by REDEN Solar represent a cumulative capacity of 330 MW, including 180 MW under its direct ownership. The company is involved in numerous projects at various stages of development or construction representing more than 350 MW, and the company’s ambition is to continue to significantly increase its production capacity in the coming years.

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China Three Gorges in $10.7bn bid for EDP

China Three Gorges (CTG) has announced the launch of a $10.7bn (€9bn) bid for Portugal’s EDP.

The offer was conditional on CTG reaching a minimum acceptance of 50 per cent plus one share of EDP’s voting rights. Upon completion, CTG would be obliged to launch a mandatory offer for the 17 per cent of shares in EDP Renováveis, the Portuguese company’s listed renewables subsidiary, not controlled by the parent.
The all-cash tender offer for the 76.7 per cent of EDP that CTG does not already own would value each share at €3.26, a 5.5 per cent premium to Thursday’s closing price of €3.09 and 17.9 per cent above the average for the past six months. It would value the whole group at €11.8bn, or about €25.6bn including net debt.

The FT reports that the move is likely to be monitored by the US, where the deal would require approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (Cfius), providing a test of Washington’s attitude to Chinese dealmaking at a time of trade tensions between the Trump administration and Beijing.

 CTG’s existing 23.3 per cent stake stems from a €2.7bn deal with the Portuguese government in 2011 that completed the privatisation of EDP in the wake of the country’s bailout by the EU and the IMF. E

Lu Chun, chairman of CTG, said the company was “strongly committed to preserving EDP’s Portuguese identity, with headquarters in Lisbon and status as a public listed company in the Lisbon stock exchange”.

CTG was hopeful of political support in Portugal after a successful six-year partnership during which EDP’s finances have stabilised. 

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Copper On the Numbers

Just 18 years ago, global consumption of copper was about 15.1 million metric tonnes (mmt), with China using approximately 1.87 mmt, or about 12% of the global total. Last year, global consumption stood at 23.8 mmt, up 58% from 2000, while China consumed about 11.8 mmt, up 530%, and representing 50% of world’s total.
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