Taavi Madiberk, CEO of Skeleton Technologies, says the new, improved Nissan Leaf is a “significant step forward” for the electric vehicle. In conversation with Green Energy News editor Dan Stephens, Madiberk reiterated his belief that Nissan’s pioneering efforts bring electric vehicles closer to the mainstream.
“With BMW, Volvo, and Jaguar Land Rover promising electrified versions of their current models, most of the major car manufacturers have now announced significant investments in hybrid and EVs,” he said. “As one of the pioneers in the market, Nissan benefits from having a bit of a head start. In addition to the significant range increase, the new LEAF offers about 50% rise in travel time on a single charge compared to its predecessor, which is clearly aiming to meet consumer demands and further increase the popularity of hybrids and EVs.”
“With prices dropping relatively quickly, range and charging time are the two bottlenecks for quicker EV adoption, but with these kinds of numbers, Nissan is doing its part in reducing the range anxiety.”
While the car manufacturers are doing their bit, the UK government has to find the investment needed to support the growing adoption of electric vehicle technology. To keep pace with the market, infrastructure needs to be continually developed to esnure electric cars are the norm, not the exception to the rule. At the moment, says Madiberk, the UK is someway behind some of its European counterparts.
“Earlier this year, the government announced a £246m investment programme in battery technology. The development of this technology, however, is coupled with a need to optimise UK infrastructure to ensure it can support the surge in charging capabilities.
“This can only be done if government, industry bodies and innovators in the sector join forces to support energy storage technologies that complement the grid, such as ultracapacitors. The reality is that the UK is lagging behind the likes of Norway, Switzerland and France who have already started to set industry benchmarks in this area.”
Currently, the two major drawbacks preventing electric vehicles gaining further public interest are range anxiety and charging times. Companies like Madiberk’s Skeleton Technologies are helping to address both these weaknesses.
“Ultracapacitors cover the peak power, from braking energy regeneration to acceleration and batteries take care of long-term energy requirements, this helps increase the range by 10% in hybrid systems due to higher efficiency, and increase the battery life-time by 50-100% leading to lower cost of ownership. The technology has more than a million lifecycles, which allows almost instant re-charging, making them ideal to cover the braking and acceleration cycle.”
Ultracapacitors are one of the lowest cost solutions to helping with grid stability, adds Madiberk, and they can certainly play an integral role in supporting the national grid and peak power demands.
“Wide-scale electric vehicle charging creates issues with frequency and voltage, which needs a solution in the intra-minute time-frame, where ultracapacitors excel. Grid stability also requires longer time-frames from 15 minutes to several hours. By introducing battery technology that has a longer lifecycle and can support the peak power needs of electric vehicles, we can ensure that the UK has the reliable infrastructure to support this trend going forward.”
Although 2024 seems like a long way off, I asked what needed to be prioritised in order to build the infrastructure needed to see diesel and petrol cars replaced. Now is the time for some serious discussions on how to implement a stable grid that will be capable of withstanding the increased energy consumption inevitable with EVs,” remarked Madiberk. “Critical to this will be coping with especially high demand peaks and proving that the grid has the resilience needed for EVs to become a success.”
We’re still a long way away from electric vehicle technology making these cars attractive in price, range and style for the mainstream consumer. But technology is moving at such a pace that electric vehicle ownership will continue to rise.
“There are some technological limitations with the current battery technology that won’t allow quick charging, but for example Tesla has already developed the option to change the battery pack and that can be done faster than it takes to fill an empty fuel tank.
“With technological innovations constantly shaking up the market, there is no doubt that charging time will reduce, battery life will extend and the future of the industry will be exciting.”