In recent years the global energy crisis has seen a transition to alternative energy and energy for sustainable development. Many countries in the world including United States, Japan and countries in the EU have resolved to have clean, renewable energy for energy resources. This includes transitioning to sustainable modes of transportation to further reduce carbon emissions. A global transition to sustainable transport is inevitable. Africa is also gaining momentum in this space, in Kenya alone, there are approximately forty electric mobility startups working towards this transition.
The three main components of electric mobility can be summarised as; the vehicle, the battery, the charger.
There are two main types of electric vehicles (EVs); the hybrid and the fully electric vehicles. The fully electric vehicles can be dived into 2 & 3 wheelers and 4 wheelers. The unifying factor for all these types of electric vehicles is that they all run on one or more electric motors. Electric cars function by plugging into a charge point and taking electricity from the grid. They store the electricity in rechargeable batteries that power an electric motor, which turns the wheels. Electric cars accelerate faster than vehicles with traditional fuel engines so they feel lighter to drive. Electric vehicles have low running costs as they have fewer moving parts for maintaining.
There are different types of energy storage systems used in EV technology. The lithium-ion battery, the nickel-metal hydride, lead-acid, and ultracapacitors. You can read more about the differences here.
It is worth noting that one concept for EVs is to have the battery pack itself be readily removable and “swappable.” This allows for extended driving range through the use of battery swap stations and an arrangement for consumers to lease rather than own their batteries. Systems have been demonstrated that can accomplish the battery swap very rapidly, in around 1 min for the battery pack swap itself and a few minutes for the complete operation.
Battery recycling is an important component of improving sustainability in E-mobility. Widespread battery recycling would keep hazardous materials from entering the waste stream both at the end of the battery’s useful life and during its production. In Kenya Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE Centre) offers the services of awareness creation (training) and safe disposal of electrical and electronic waste (e-Waste); in accordance with NEMA waste regulations and WEEE regulations that are protective to both the environment and public health.
Charging electric vehicles has an immense impact on the grid. As more and more electric vehicles into the social production and living, the demand for electrical energy will affect the existing power grid city planning system, thereby affecting the planning and development of electric vehicle charging systems. Construction planning, building capacity and other electric vehicle charging station is mainly affected by the following factors; electric vehicle overall ownership, electric vehicle user habits and mode of operation, battery characteristic and planning of charging stations. Using stand-alone mini-grids or a hybrid of renewable energy and grid connection could further help to reduce the overall impact charging electric vehicles has on the grid.
Benefits of electric vehicles
The benefits of electric mobility can be categorized as environmental, economical and technological.
One of the main environmental benefits of electric mobility is that it improves the lives of people by not emitting toxic gases, this causes improved air quality through the reduction of hydrocarbons. As electric vehicles do not have combustion engines, they avoid the emissions of tonnes of greenhouse gases which in turn helps to fight the effects of climate change. E-Mobility dramatically reduces air noise pollution in areas such as engines, tyres and wind passage noise.
The economic benefits are seen in electric mobility’s contribution to economic growth. This is due to the lower consumer cost. Vehicle purchase, charging infrastructure, maintenance and cost of charging are much lower than the current cost of internal combustion engines vehicles.
Electric mobility technology is constantly evolving making it increasingly efficient and creating new applications in larger vehicles such as lorries, aircrafts and boats. This encourages manufacturer innovation and use of smart power grids that improves the efficiency of electricity delivery in general.
It is a fun new time to consider going electric for your next vehicle, tuk-tuk or motorbike purchase, it offers more economic and environmental benefits.
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