Merging Technologies: Wireless Charging from Solar Roads

There is currently a global drive to end the production of petrol and diesel cars, with bans announced by several Governments around the world (including the UK). Many cities and territories have signed the Fossil Fuel Free Streets Declaration, committing to zero emissions vehicles by 2030. We will see a shift to electric vehicles in the next 30 years that will add to the increasing demand for electrical energy.
However, the increase in electrical power requirements for this shift will have an impact, as will the increase in battery demand. Renewable power stations will need to increase capacity, requiring land space (for solar fields) or causing problems for biodiversity (such as wind turbines). Also, technology still limits electric vehicles in terms of range and charging time and some car owners are unable to recharge their vehicles at home.
Currently, three technologies exist, which dont solve these problems alone, but if merged together could offer the breakthrough needed. Solar paving and road surfaces are being developed around the world and are used to power street lamps and electric car charging stations. In Sweeden, an electrified road for car charging has been trialled - an electric rail supplying power that can be picked up via a movable arm connected to the underside of the vehicle. This system could deliver power from the solar units to the vehicles, but the rail must be live for the vehicle to draw power, which could cause danger to people or animals making contact with the road. The third technology is wireless charging, electromagnetic induction technology currently used by many smart phones.
If electric vehicles used wireless charging technology on solar roads, the impact would be huge. Batteries could be smaller, range would be longer and the problem of needing charging points would be solved.

 

Actor(s)

Government

 

Trigger (intervention)

 

Criticality

 

Feedback Dynamics

 

Timescale and scaleability

 

Resistance

 

Author

Zoe Cawthorn

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