WPT technology could be used on strategic roads

TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) will undertake a feasibility study into whether wireless power transfer (WPT) technology can be used on England’s strategic road network, to prepare for and potentially encourage, greater electric vehicle (EV) take-up.

The study is being carried out on behalf of the Highways Agency and is the first part in a much larger programme of research and trialling for dynamic WPT technology¹ to be undertaken in the UK.

TRL was selected to deliver the feasibility study based on its knowledge of EVs, road construction, dynamic and static WPT technology, knowledge of the relevant industries and TRL’s position as a lead organisation in the UK for understanding the technical and commercial feasibility of dynamic WPT technology.

The purpose of the feasibility study is to identify at least two near market dynamic WPT technologies from around the world that could be suitable to trial in future stages of the programme. In doing so, TRL will examine in detail the requirements for integration with road infrastructure and maintenance, connection to the grid and requirements for provision of power and energy and, vehicle manufacturer approaches to integration with different classes of vehicles (covering cars, vans, HGVs and buses/coaches). Based on findings in the project and through a comprehensive programme of stakeholder engagement, TRL will be investigating possible business cases for the introduction of this technology and whether a desired cost benefit ratio can be achieved, identifying possible costs and benefits under different scenarios for implementation. Although the focus of the study is on implementing dynamic WPT technology, the possibility of extending the use of equipped vehicles to static WPT applications for origin/destination charging will also be considered.

TRL point out that the purpose of the project is not to find an alternative to current plug-in charging infrastructure but rather to develop a comprehensive charging eco-system capable of delivering power to EVs via different methods. This is to facilitate greater and more flexible use of EVs in the UK, overcome range anxiety and allow switching to zero emission vehicles for vehicle types which have traditionally been accepted as not suitable for electrification, e.g. HGVs and coaches.

The feasibility study is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2015 and may be followed by a set of off-road trials comprising test track trials and accelerated pavement facility testing, subject to the results of the study.

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