Delivering on electric dreams

News Editor
The Engineer

Like it or not, electric vehicles are here to stay and new figures suggest they will be worth £7.2bn to the British motor industry by 2014.

This figure has been reached by industry analyst GfK Automotive, which published research today that predicts 300,000 electric cars on UK roads by 2014.

The study suggests that another 500,000 EVs could be buzzing around Britain’s streets if manufacturers can overcome issues such as the well-documented ‘range anxiety’, upfront costs, charging times and the availability of charging posts.

The last point has a particular resonance in London, where EV owners are required to jump through bureaucratic hoops to enjoy their all-electric mobility.

First of all, registration is required in order to charge using a public charge point. Seems fair but different boroughs operate different schemes with different rules and registration is required in the boroughs an EV motorist wants to charge in.

To complicate matters further, there’s often an annual fee and some providers require the use of their connecting cable.

Luckily, this is set to change with the launch in Spring of Source London, the capital’s city wide electric vehicle charging network.

Simplifying EV mobility, the scheme requires an annual payment that gives drivers an access key to the Source London charge point network, which is set to benefit from an extra 1,300 public charging posts from 2011.

There are those who believe that their EV will be charged by electricity generated from renewable sources but wind farms alone are only likely to provide intermittent power that requires reliable back-up capacity. (Take a look at The Engineer’s Friday editorial for a discussion about this.)

This, and other energy issues are on the agenda tomorrow at EA Technology in Capenhurst where Schneider Electric’s David Lewis will be discussing ‘The Virtual Power Station and the Smart Grid’.

The event’s publicity material states that demand for electricity is increasing faster than power production can be built and placed into operation. Similarly, meeting certification requirements for new power stations can be lengthy and time consuming process.

With these issues in mind, the event will focus on possible solutions that include demand response and Smart Grid Technology.

Tomorrow sees the publication of what is claimed to be the UK’s most comprehensive study into employment figures and future trends for the wind energy industry.

The study, commissioned by RenewableUK, is expected to include details of a significant jump in full-time employment in the wind energy sector from 2008/9 – 2009/10, against the trend towards increasing unemployment in the UK as a whole.

Still with employment and news that Liverpool University is hosting ‘Life Skills – Take control of your career’ tomorrow.

People looking for a new position or wanting to make an impact with their current employers are encouraged to attend. The IET event is free but registration is essential.

Briefing feels compelled at this point to highlight The Engineer Jobs, where there are currently 878 positions waiting to be filled by readers such as yourselves.