Making All Yellow Cabs ‘Green’: Can the Grid Support It?

(DGIwire) — On July 5, 2017, The Guardian and other sources reported major news from Volvo: the automaker announced that it would only make hybrid or pure electric vehicles from 2019. This followed an April 20 announcement—on New York City’s official website—that Mayor Bill de Blasio would like 20 percent of motor vehicles sold in the city to be electric by 2025, up from less than one percent today. In light of developments like these, there is no question that electric vehicles are going to play a major role in our future.

“The key question is, can the national electrical grid support all of these electric vehicles and their charging?” asks Stephen Voller, CEO of ZapGo Ltd, the developer of Carbon-Ion (C-Ion™) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries. “The answer is, probably not in its current form.”

For example, if the city took 3,000 yellow cabs—or about 20 percent of the current fleet, according to numbers published by the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission—and charged them all at the same time, it would be the power equivalent of adding 216,000 new apartments to the electrical grid. Put another way—if it is assumed that two or more people live in every new apartment—it would be as if the New York City population grew by close to 500,000 people in terms of electricity use. And that’s just for 3,000 cabs. If the entire 15,000-cab fleet went electric, it would be as if the population grew by 2.5 million people in terms of electricity use!

However, there might be a solution. ZapGo’s Carbon-Ion cell technology could enhance New York City’s current plans to operating traditional charging stations for electric vehicles that charge at 50kW (kilowatts), with some charging as high as 350kW. In contrast, the smart energy storage in Carbon-Ion cells can provide a much more energy-efficient charging solution for drivers while potentially saving the local utility billions of dollars in infrastructure costs. A bank of ZapGo Carbon-Ion cells could be integrated into electric charging stations—and ensure sufficient power to charge up electric vehicles in a quick and timely manner.

ZapGo has already developed a Carbon-Ion pack for a four-person autonomous vehicle that recharges in just 35 seconds. Separately, the company is currently working with a British consortium to develop the next-generation driverless “POD”—such as those currently in use at Heathrow Airport in London, whisking passengers from one of the terminals to a nearby parking lot—that will combine traditional lithium-ion cells with the company’s Carbon-Ion cells as their power source.

ZapGo launched its ultra-fast charging Carbon-Ion cells at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2017. They were installed in prototype electric scooters, cordless power tools and cordless cleaners. The recharge time was reduced from hours to five minutes, completely safely, by using ZapGo’s patented Carbon-Ion technology instead of lead-acid, NiMh or lithium-ion batteries.

“With electric vehicles a big part of our future, being mindful of energy requirements is a must—and Carbon-Ion could play a significant role in advancing things,” Voller adds.

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