UK’s e-Highways Prototype

As Go-Green trends go mainstream in many countries, environmental impact and feasibility becomes a high-priority strategic consideration as well as business operations to be carried out. Quite an economically viable decision to make, though, as there are several advantages and benefits to realize by incorporating green initiatives and environmental-friendly features in to corporate identity, from value adding and product differentiation, to competitive edges from expanding in to green conscious markets that target customers with progressive interests in minimizing carbon footprints, or Conscious Consumerism in modern terms, where consumers believe the products they buy changes the world, either positively or negatively. This priority, beyond peradventure, applies to the logistics arena, as well. Fortunately, though, ahead of its time technological advancements today has paved the way for green inventions to come through for the business of moving and storing goods, services, and related information, for the purpose of satisfying customer requirements. A case in point, electric-based powertrains with no or ultra-low emissions that use electricity as the main power drive and operates with zero or minimized emission per kilometer. The minimized emission is a calculated by-product quality of engines that depend primarily on the ability to store and recharge power in batteries, and therefore, battery capacity, rather than burning fuel to generate power as conventional alternative Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) do. Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) do not burn any fuel at all (no exhaust pipe, per se), while Hybrids and Plugins do, though, with significantly less than proportionate amounts to ICEs in the same price range.

Such advancement should be only good news for the United Kingdom (UK) government that’s committed to reducing transportation-induced greenhouse gas emissions. All conspicuous automakers are to offer at least one electrically powered car to the market by late 2015, with over 20 models currently more than ever on the market. However, every fairytale comes with a mountain to climb. The arch-criticisms of electric-based vehicles, quite predictably, are i) Range Anxiety; ii) the quality and quantity of the source of energy that fuels the batteries; and iii) the time required to recharge EV batteries, along with other less pressing contentions. Range Anxiety pertains to the driver’s worry of how far the vehicle can go before running out of power. Since Hybrids and Plugins do not share this concern, this article will focus on EVs, mainly. The driving distance a 100% e-powertrain is capable of attaining, assuming all external else remains constant, depends on a) energy storage and regeneration capacity over the course of commute; and b) recharging capabilities over the course of commute. Both are critical success factors that currently hinder the viability of EVs. While gurus predicted b) to be a non-issue, as charging up an EV can be ten to even twenty-folds more affordable than filling up a comparable combustible, and as the required time, cost, and technology associated with implementing and installing an e-charger is significantly less compared to that of a gas station, nonetheless, it didn’t quite happen that way, not yet at least, not even with $300 home e-charging kits readily available on the mass market.

Yet, as solutions stem with proper support, the UK came up with an answer to b) that centers around availability. Aug 2015, the UK revealed a pilot system with built-in a technological capability that can potentially substantiate 100% e-powertrain concepts – roads that charge EVs along the way. Commencing at the end of this year, 2015, the project will be experimented with both UK motorways and major highways in order to ensure that such zero-footprint journeys operate as effective and as efficient as possible. Motorists will be able to travel long distances without having to plan the entire trip around recharging.

The special roadways will be created with cutting edge technology that equips underground electromagnetic fields that can automatically connect to battery systems of cars on the surface. To be completed five years from now, or around 2020, the staggeringly valued project of 500 million pounds is expected to propel the UK to become the leader of a new technologically-based logistics world. The project will help increase employment growth in the industrial sector and further expand the cargo transport business model around the country. The trial project should develop over the course of 18 months, where e-charging stations for EVs will be installed every 20 miles to facilitate convenience, promote safety, and thereby, eliminate range anxiety for e-commuters altogether. Nevertheless, the technology’s viability is yet to be observed; whether this green initiative is the catalyst to a new era of environmentally-friendly logistics, and if so, will the UK become the leader, and moreover; how would such advancement apply to that of Thailand? We await all of the answers, patiently anxious. 

Compiled by BLOG.SCGLogistics 
References and pictures Gov.uk, Globalnews.ca

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