The Department of Science and Innovation’s (DSI’s) electric mobility initiative uYilo director Hilten Parmar on Tuesday highlighted that worldwide all forms of mobility, including personal, freight, aviation and marine transport, were moving towards the use or inclusion of electric systems.
The use or inclusion of electric systems in mobility will help to improve their efficiency, as well as to lower, and in some cases eliminate, emissions.
In South Africa, electric mobility infrastructure is being developed mainly in the urban areas and along major highway networks.
The uYilo programme, which is hosted in the DSI’s Technology Innovation Agency, is supporting the testing of battery and electric mobility technologies alongside its industry partners, with a focus on localisation of these technologies.
“Since uYilo’s inception in 2013, we have scaled up the investment in and growth of the local participants in battery technologies and electric mobility software. We run yearly funding calls to drive local development of these technologies.”
Additionally, key technologies required will include distributed solar electricity generation and storage systems to support charging infrastructure. Global charging and electric mobility communications protocols are being developed and should be adopted by all automobile manufacturers by next year, he added.
“The energy ecosystem is changing from single generation, transmission and distribution channels to a much more complex ecosystem of multiple sources of generation and different patterns of distribution and consumption.
Electric mobility will fit into new smart electricity grids, and electric vehicles (EVs) consume and distribute energy, making it critical that a holistic and complete communications system be established to manage the complexity of the grid.
EVs can also help to regulate the voltage and frequency of the grid by providing power during times of peak demand or to stabilise variable sources of electricity generation.
“When idle, the vehicles can contribute to grid services and these also require new business models and provide potentially new revenue streams for the transport industry and consumers. The use of EVs in such a smart grid can also help to reduce the amount of fixed storage required, such as to provide power for homes when consumers return.”
Personal vehicles are typically only used between 5% and 7% of the time and, therefore, can provide storage and grid services while standing idle. Even marine transport and freight vessels can provide grid services while anchored, and can provide such services to islands, added Parmar.
This is known as the vehicle-to-everything model and requires that EVs be able to interface with infrastructure, homes and, eventually, smart cities.
The advances towards electric mobility are part of the disruption of the transport industry, and will affect all aspects of the industry, from high-end motor sports, commuting and public transport, to marine and aviation transport.
Parmar was speaking at the Smarter Mobility 2019 conference, held in Waterkloof Glen, Tshwane, on Tuesday and Wednesday.