First UK Trial of Wireless Charging Technology for Light Commercial Vans to Launch in Edinburgh

Momentum Dynamics is partnering with Heriot-Watt University, Flexible Power Systems (FPS) and City of Edinburgh Council who have been awarded funding worth £1.6m.

The UK’s first wireless charging hub for light commercial vehicles will be installed at Heriot Watt University’s Edinburgh campus in early 2021 to service specially adapted vans from both City of Edinburgh Council and Heriot-Watt’s estates team. The technology has already been proven for mass transit applications and will be supplied by specialist firm, Momentum Dynamics.

Fleet and Workshops Manager for The City of Edinburgh Council, Scott Millar, said:

We are already deploying electric vehicles across our fleet and we’re looking at ways we can drive adoption in the wider community. Providing charging infrastructure like shared hubs has the potential to play a key part of removing barriers to uptake for both the council and the community. We’re excited to take a leadership role here as a successful project in Edinburgh could present a model for other councils to use to reduce transport emissions in cities.

The project is funded by the Office for Low-Emission Vehicles and delivered through Innovate UK.

A recent Centrica survey highlighted that UK companies are planning to invest £12bn in fleet electrification over the next two years, driven by a combination of policy drivers, improving economics, and expanding model choice.

wireless charging vans Edinburgh
The charging hub concept has the potential to contribute to decarbonising commercial vehicles in the City of Edinburgh.

This project aims to accelerate the transition to EV in commercial vehicle fleets by reducing the cost of charging the vans. If the project is successful, wireless charging technology could be adopted by fleets across the UK.

High-powered wireless electric vehicle charging is expected to have considerable benefits for commercial vehicle users:

  • Faster starts to charging sessions with no downtime for plugging in to improve vehicle use and create bigger benefits from opportunity charging sessions
  • No cables to cause trip hazards or require maintenance
  • Future proofing for the advent of autonomous vehicles (which will not have a driver to plug them in)

The project ultimately aims to apply wireless charging to shared logistics hubs where fulfilment functions can be combined with charging. Wireless charging technology will be applied to improve vehicle turnaround times and staff productivity at the hubs enhancing cost savings. Road transport accounted for 25 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 with vans contributing over 4 per cent of that figure.

FPS’ Managing Director, Michael Ayres, said:

Productivity drivers and longer journeys mean commercial vehicles may need to charge away from the depot or at high speeds during the day. Rapid and ultra-rapid chargers required for a fast turnaround make up less than 25% of publicly available chargers and can be difficult to access if they are in use or out of service.

High power rapid chargers can be expensive both in terms of the chargers themselves and the electricity network infrastructure required to support them. Sharing the cost of the charger and the connection through a shared charging hub can mitigate a portion of these costs. The project is testing sharing of the charging hubs between logistics, retailer, local government, and university owned commercial vehicles.

These charging hubs require high use to be economically viable. The project uses powerful wireless charging to shorten the length of time vehicles need to be in the charging hubs. At the same time, we are investigating adding basic fulfilment capabilities to improve the productivity of logistics vehicles visiting the hubs.

The charging hub concept has the potential to contribute to decarbonising commercial vehicles in the City of Edinburgh.

City of Edinburgh Council’s Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said:

We’re delighted to be working with Heriot-Watt University on this innovative project, helping to facilitate the use of electric vehicles across our fleet. We are committed to supporting the use of sustainable, low emission travel and continue to replace vehicles with cleaner models wherever possible.

Our own Electric Vehicle Action Plan will result in a significant increase in charging points across the city which, alongside projects such as this, will help encourage the take-up of electric vehicles as a low carbon, environmentally-friendly transport choice.

This article was originally published by Momentum Wireless Power.


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