The e-Mobility Revolution is lining up on the race track

Published on Wednesday, 15 November 2017

“The electric automobile is simply a great innovation which many industrial sectors, at this point, are pushing in an inevitable manner, and represents an incredible opportunity for the country to be understood without fear”

– Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel

In this context, for a company like Enel, Starace emphasised, the electric car is an essential innovation for the future. “Our job is to equip the country in which we are, Italy, and the other countries in which we operate, from Spain to South America, with public and private charging infrastructures so that electric car owners can have a normal life and have fun driving.”

To realise this project our company is ready to invest between 100 and 300 million euros in the field over the coming years in order to favour partnerships and synergies at all levels, from the public administration to companies to private owners.

From well to wheel, the myths to dispel

Technologies and a wide-ranging distribution network alone are not enough to speed up the e-Mobility Revolution. We must also experience a cultural revolution, dispelling false myths about electric automobiles beginning with the one that holds they are just as polluting as traditional cars and that they have a negative effect on the electrical system. But above all we have to eliminate “range anxiety”; in other words, the fear electric automobile users have of “running dry” due to the lack of an adequate number of charging stations.

To help clarify the world of the electric car, Francesco Venturini, Head of Enel’s new Business Line and the one responsible for realising the plan for the development of the electric mobility in Italy, explained the advantages as well as the limited and easily overcome limits of e-cars but above all why they are the future of transport.

The first point is that the electric car, without a doubt, eliminates emissions at a local level: “The electric car does not produce emissions: it has no catalytic converter and thus does not emit pollution or the fine dust particles that make city air unbreathable,” Venturini observed. And as far as climate-changing emissions are concerned, with Italy’s current energy mix and thanks to greater electric engine efficiency “from well to wheel the electric car produces circa 72% less CO2 than a traditional one.”

And not only that: continuing to compare the entire well-to-wheel phase, an electric car is three times more efficient than an internal combustion engine car. In terms of energy used, the electric automobile can travel three times the amount of kilometres of a traditional one.

The alleged risks facing the entire electrical system with a greater diffusion of e-cars have also been debunked: if in Italy today one million e-cars were to be on the ground, energy demand would increase by only 0.3%. Furthermore, the state of the distribution network is secured by those technologies Enel has developed over the years, which make Italy’s distribution network among the most innovative and advanced in the world. Technologies that allow electric cars access to the market of services and stabilise a virtuous circle between their connection and the distribution network.

 

“At the foundation of the public and private infrastructure we will realise there is an intelligent system: electric automobiles will become ever more necessary to the system as it draws from renewable sources. Electric cars are batteries on four wheels that will be distributed throughout the land and, thanks to our technology, support the network, close the circle, and create new value in terms of flexibility”

– Francesco Venturini, Head of Enel’s Global e-Solutions division

14,000 charging stations to get Italy moving

Nevertheless, some critical factors undeniably remain. Today there are still few models of electric cars and their cost is high. A central issue the automotive industry is seriously confronting: thanks to innovation and a reduction of technological costs, it is estimated that by 2024 already the price of an electric automobile will be comparable to that of a traditional one.

The primary fear to be overcome, however, remains that of running out of energy. And getting over the fear of running on empty is precisely the point of the national plan for the installation of charging infrastructure that we presented in Vallelunga.

“With our infrastructural plan we aim to eliminate range anxiety; in other words, the fear of running out of energy for those driving an electric car. And this is the reason why we are realising a vast network which will contribute to increasing the number of electric vehicles in circulation throughout Italy, involving all of those – whether in public or in private – who believe, as we do, in our country and in our ability to innovate”

– Francesco Venturini, Head of Enel’s Global e-Solutions division

Our plan aims to cover the various Italian regions through a comprehensive network that guarantees our automotive partners the possibility of betting on the market of electric cars in Italy.

The charging network we will realise over the coming years will be made up of Quick charging stations (22kW) in urban areas, and Fast (50 kW) and Ultra Fast (up to 350 kW) ones outside of them. A large part of the charging stations, around 80%, will be installed in urban zones while the rest will be installed outside of them and along national motorways in order to guarantee medium and long-range movement. A path that will also be realised thanks to the EVA+ project (Electric Vehicles Arteries in Italy and Austria) co-financed by the European Commission and which foresees, in particular, the installation of 180 charging points along Italian motorways.

 

“The plan is dynamic, open, and flexible and allows us to increase or decrease the number of installations based on the number of cars on the market. We will invest where there are programmes for electric mobility from local authorities, acting as a driving force, and follow up with geographical coverage of the network”

– Alberto Piglia, Head of e-Mobility, Enel’s Global e-Solutions division

The objective, Piglia concluded, is to go from around 1,000 public charging points to close to 2,700 by 2018 in order to allow electric car owners to drive comfortably through the city as well as the country.

Innovation on the track: from racing to the client

In the name of the e-Mobility Revolution and thanks to the Open Power spirit of our company, we have decided to give life to an innovative technology hub dedicated to the development of technologies for electric mobility, which will unite research institutions and startups within the sector. “A centre of research and development,” Venturini explained, “in which we are able to experiment with new technologies, testing both new generation charging stations and software, the interfaces among them and electronic modes of transportation.”

A technology hub realised within the spaces of the Aci Vallelunga racetrack of Rome where there are already 20 charging infrastructures made with our technology. This is the first innovation hub specialised on e-mobility, a structure that aims to connect and involve research institutions and both national and international startups, and which will allow us to test the new infrastructures directly in the field by taking advantage of Aci Vallelunga’s specialist expertise in the area of road safety and racing in order to transfer that high level of performance developed in competition on the racetrack to daily life. 

On this occasion we unveiled the prototype of the new “Quick” charging station designed by Marco Susani and Defne Koz. A new design for our charging infrastructures that, thanks to its smaller dimensions, can be integrated more easily into the urban context and that will be characterised by greater opportunities of interaction with the client thanks to the availability of new wireless interfaces like Bluetooth, WiFi, and NFC (Near Field Communication), which in turn allow us to provide new services.

In this way we will be able to endow the charging stations with new abilities capable of taking advantage of the potentials of the Cloud platform known as the Electric Mobility Management System (EMM), which can remotely monitor and control them from in real time.

The e-Mobility Revolution that offers rewards

The same spirit of innovation that characterises our company in the research of efficient and sustainable technological solutions for electric mobility has also made us the protagonists of the seventh edition of the “2017 Prize for Sustainable Development”. Our V2G project (Vehicle-to-Grid) took first prize from the Sustainable Development Foundation at Ecomondo in Rimini and has to do with technology developed by Enel together with Nissan and Nuvve, a young company from California, which allows us to transform electric cars into true “batteries on wheels” capable of accumulating and releasing unused energy back into the network.

A technology born of sharing and an approach open to innovation that will allow us to extract ever more value from energy. A value we want to help cultivate in order to contribute to a more sustainable, zero-emission future.

 

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