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Date:  15th June 2018

Let’s be Honest…

by James Carton

Think about a day at a beach, breathing fresh, clean air; and now compare this to walking on a footpath of a busy street, congested with cars, trucks and busses. There is no comparison! We don’t notice the potentially severe damage to our health of conventionally fossil fuelled vehicles until we are on a beach smelling the fresh air, miles from the city boundary!

Fresh, clean air!

Our parents didn’t suffer the extent of fumes than we do today. It’s a generational thing, populations are congregating to cities and fossil-fuelled vehicles have increased by 33% in the last 2 decades. It has got too familiar that we see the norm as breathing in toxic fumes!

Driving a zero-emission EV has made me become aware of car fumes!! I have always noticed vehicle fumes but knowing my EV does not even have an exhaust is unbelievably pleasing!

Driving since January until June I have clocked up over 16,000km on my fully electric Hyundai Ionic. I am a commuter driving 80km each way to work in the city every day as well as other normal excursions at the weekend (1000km/week). Over the past few months I have discussed my driving with everyone:

Some comments from the uninitiated!

“You’re a Pioneer!”

 “An electric vehicle, way too expensive!”

“Maybe the next car, definitely the car after that…”

“Sure, soon we won’t need cars, the robots will be driving us around…”

“Maybe I’ll switch when there is better range…”

“Good luck taking it to Donegal!”

“An electric vehicle? You’d be Mad!”

And from the EV pioneers!

“Paying for fuel? You’d be Mad!”

 “It’s an experiment and it’s going well so far…”

 “Electricity is way cheaper than petrol or diesel”

“I see fuel prices are gone up again”

“I don’t have to work Mondays, because I’m saving that much money on fuel…”

“We drive the EV everywhere…”

“So cheap to get around…”

“Have you seen the price of fuel now..”

“We have a second car, we use it for long drives”

“Sold the second car, the electric vehicle is used so much”

“So silent”

I exclusively charge my car at home on my night meter, I rarely use the charging network, even though it is presently free!! I have noticed that petrol & diesel prices are steadily increasing with petrol passing the €1.53 mark in my local forecourt. Electricity prices may increase but never as much as petrol & diesel fossil fuels. The higher the increase in fossil fuel prices the more I am saving with my EV.

The Galway trip for the Naysayers!

I have been to Galway already in the EV and it went well, 2 charges there and back, 40mins extra each way, using fast-chargers, for me, not a major inconvenience.
However a few weeks ago I had another meeting in Galway. The trip began by leaving Wicklow, to give a lecture in Dublin City University and then on to Galway, collecting 2 colleagues on the way, for a full day, and as it turned out, night, of meetings, discussing “The GenComm Project”, which I am an associate member of.

Charge Immediately

Complications started when I didn’t get a chance to charge the EV anywhere convenient during the meetings. I left Galway for Wicklow at 11pm, travelled to a fast charger just off the N8 motorway. However an EV had just pulled in front of me to charge, so I had to wait. Since I had passengers and we were anxious to get home, I only filled the battery to 70% charge, which with my normal driving would have been perfect to get to the next charging point. Now it turned out this night was cold, it went below -1 across the midlands. I had the heating very comfortable and was driving the motorway speed limit, this compounded with the 70% charge made me realise after about 100km that I might be very close to zero charge again I get to the Enfield Fast charger. Realising this I had to reduce my speed and turn down the heating. My passengers may not have been very pleased!! It ended up I made the fast charger that I wanted to get to and there I filled it up and continued to home with no issues. What this shows is that how parasitic loads combined with fast motorway speeds can reduce expected range. With existing EVs you must not be in a rush on long journeys and you must plan your long trips.

If you are willing to compromise on this insignificant detail go and buy an EV, the benefits certainly outweigh any inconvenience.

This is my story, comments/questions welcome via Twitter @eaasolutions. I will update again soon.

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Date:  15th June 2018

Service with a Smile Guaranteed

by James Carton

This month it was time for my EV’s first “service”. Hyundai gave 5 years free servicing when I purchased the car (on the assumption of driving 15,000km per annum), so I arrive in at 6months with just under 16,000km. The car has been driven through storms, floods snow, etc., with ease.

How do you service an EV? Well, to be honest, there is little to do; the car software was updated; all battery cells were given a clean bill of health; my breaks were checked; break and washer fluids checked, and of course my car was washed!

As I was waiting to get my keys from the service technician a number of customers were in front of me, discussing and paying for expensive timing belts, engine oil, air, oil, and fuel filters, spark plugs, etc. I suddenly realised my EV has none of these replacement parts. EVs have 5 times fewer parts as a traditional internal combustion vehicle. Never will I have to deal with or pay for any of these internal combustion issues ever again! I got the all-clear from the technician and walked out with a smile.

This is my story, comments/questions welcome via Twitter @eaasolutions. I will update again soon.

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Date:  20th March 2018

GenComm Meeting and Launch of White Paper on Smart Hydrogen

by James Carton

GenComm Associate Partners Meeting and Hydrogen Position Paper Launch by Denis Naughten TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment.

“…Hydrogen can be a way to store that energy Capacity…”

“…Reduces our dependency on other forms of energy, particularly fossil fuels…”

“…3 community scale sites..”

“…Hydrogen for Heat and power Vehicle fuel, Industrial Gas…”

“…Help Meet our Climate Targets…”

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Date:  13th March 2018

Hydrogen & Fuel Cells – Gearing up for Commercialisation

by James Carton

Attended Climate Change Solutions Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Event. A fantastic networking event on emerging hydrogen technologies.

http://www.climate-change-solutions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/No6JacquiStaunton.pdf

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Date:  28th February 2018

So how is my driving? – The first 7000kM in my Electric Vehicle

by James Carton

Almost 2 months into 2018 and I have clocked up 7,000km on my fully electric Hyundai Ionic. I am commuting as normal (1000km/week) and not inhibited, with short and long trips as normal, (the longest single trip was 300km to Galway). To be honest, it has taken a few weeks to get properly used to an EV, to know exactly how to “drive” it… which I think has also made me a safer driver. So how is my driving…?

EVs driving efficiency is measured in kWhr/100km, opposed to l/100km for fuel driven cars (FYI: 1litre petrol is equivalent to approx. 9 kWhr). Hyundai document that the Ionic EV can get 280km from a full charge, that’s an efficiency of 10kWhr/100km! That is very different driving from what I see on a day to day basis! On average my efficiency is 14kWhr/100km giving me a practical range of 200km and talking to other EV drivers they seem to be in the 16 kWhr/100km bracket. So why the difference?

Each vehicle (diesel, petrol, hybrids, EVs, etc.) sold in Europe is measured on a European driving cycle. This measures emissions driving efficiency, etc. However, the driving cycle is generally completed in the confines of a rolling road in optimal conditions and temperatures. It is sometimes rumoured that seats, carpets and more are removed from cars to reduce weight, which can drive up efficiency. Unfortunately, my EV in Ireland must cope with low winter temperatures, parasitic losses from heaters on cold mornings and lights in dark evenings. With my driving style giving 14kWhr/100km, I am hoping warmer spring temperatures and longer evenings increase my range!

This is my story, comments/questions welcome via Twitter @eaasolutions. I will update again soon.

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Date:  28th February 2018

Re-Charging my Battery – Electric Vehicle

by James Carton

For five weeks I was charging my car on the normal 3pin plug charger cable (taking 12hrs to charge from empty), it was fine, but now I have a WallPod home charge point installed at my house (taking 3hrs to charge from empty, on my timed night meter. FYI, contact your electricity supplier, they install the night rate meter for free). Newly introduced SEAI grant covered 2/3 of the cost of installation.

EV infrastructure is something I heard a lot about prior to investing in an EV myself. To be honest, in general, I have no requirement for charging points other than the one at my house, having only used ESB or private charging points 4 or 5 times to date. For example, on my trip to Galway, I used a super charger in Enfield, charging from almost zero to 80% charge in 35minutes, this was great, got a bite to eat and came back the car was charged! In my opinion EV infrastructure is simple, all that is needed is super chargers strategically located on the motorway corridors and in each town, designed to allow multiple cars to charge at the same time (which is not presently available). Smaller charging points should be available in public car parks, hotels, town centres and work locations and of course in your housing complex, depending on EV ownership.

It will be interesting to see how much a kWhr will cost when ultimately drivers must pay to use charging points. The most sustainable way (the reason why EVs are seen as clean) would be to match a cost relative to % renewable electricity on the system at the time of charging. This could be based minute to minute or related to peak or off-peak rates. Personally I think minute-to-minute-cost-tracking using blockchain technologies is potentially a solid way to make EVs work for the environment, promoting renewable energy over fossil energy.

I talk about my EV experience to everyone and share a test drive with many. One comment coming from the uninitiated is that EVs might be a hazard to pedestrians, because of they are silent. This is an odd one in my opinion, both the pedestrian and the driver must be aware of their surroundings and if all cars did not have the sound of exhaust emissions, might that be a safer world?

This is my story, comments/questions welcome via Twitter @eaasolutions. I will update again soon.

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Date:  28th January 2018

SEAFUEL Project kick off

by James Carton

I was delighted to be invited to and present at the launch of the SEAFUEL project on the 26th of January 2018 in NUI Galway.  SEAFUEL – Sustainable integration of renewable fuels in local transportation is co-financed by the INTERREG Atlantic (€3.5 million).

SEAFUEL project will integrate renewable solar and wind energy and aims to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen as a fuel in local transport, piloted in the Canary Islands, Madeira in Portugal and the Aran Islands.

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Date:  17th January 2018

Switched on to an Electric Vehicle – The first 1000km 

by James Carton

I am 2 weeks in 2018 owning an Electric Vehicle (EV). I may not be a typical EV driver, my previous cars include; 1.6l BMW, 2l MR2 and a 1.8l MG. The driving experience and performance is what I want… So why now an EV?

I never bought a diesel car, my gripe was that they reminded me of an old tractor; the sound, the sticky diesel, the black noxious smoke…not for me. Petrol was better, if you spilt it, it simply evaporated, if you set it alight it burst into flames… But petrol, and diesel, are expensive.

So, in essence, my reasoning is purely cost savings. If I had another reason, it is to practice what I preach; I lecture in Energy Sustainability at Dublin City University. I commute 170km 5 days a week from Wicklow to Dublin City University via the M50. I have the car 2 weeks and already have over 1000kM on the clock. I have driven many hybrid and EV cars but I choose the Ioniq, simply because it was the nicest looking, longest range and reasonable pricing.

Substantial Savings

I have put a simple comparison table together (see slider), this was my decision-making tool. ECars, SEAI and others have their own and they are very accurate, but for me, I had to do it myself. Simply put, the EV car costs me €10 per week compared to €100 per week for previous fossil fuel car. Looking at it differently, the repayment for the car almost equates the cost saving on fuel…

The other benefits:
  • Charging your car at home, imagine, never having to fill your car in a fuel station; one of my favourite benefits. I plug in at home, at my comfort, never to be marketed by the chocolate bars at the stations’ counters ever again…
  • My car Tax is €120 per annum with the EV, down from €514 per annum for my previous car.
  • I have added a night rate electricity meter in my house and this gives me the reduced price for electricity, not only for my car but also for my house electricity, laundry, lights, etc.
  • Silence, the only noise is the air over and the road under the car, and a comforting whine when I put the foot down. You only notice the silence when you get back into a diesel or petrol car, and notice, engines are very loud!
  • EVs are comfortable, relaxed heated seats, touch button on and off. My EV is somewhere between level 1 & 2 autonomous driving; auto braking, adaptive cruise control, lane assist; it is safe and easy.
  • “The infinite accelerator pedal”, this is my description of putting your foot down on the accelerator, there is no pause, no gear shift, there is no delay. Switching from Eco to Sports makes it happen even faster, performance at your fingertips.
The Unknowns:
  • The resale price of EV cars is unknown, but that can exist with every new model car. If the car and the battery are in good condition, and EVs become more popular there will be a vibrant second-hand market for EVs. Hyundai give 8 years warranty on the Battery on their EVs, they certainly have confidence in their product.
  • Range anxiety is real, but planning your trip is also real and if I need to go to Donegal or Kerry without stopping for a supercharge, I will take the train or bus. Medium to long-term Hydrogen transport is the game changer; an EV with as much range as a fossil-fuelled vehicle.
  • The minister for Energy has indicated that toll costs will be reduced or even eliminated for EVs. I presently spend €21 a week with a tag for the M50. I could save up to €1000 annually if it comes in fully.
  • Presently I am installing a 32amp charging point at my house (using the €600 grant from SEAI), this should reduce my charge time by half to 4hours for a full charge from zero.
  • Cold temperatures of Winter are not good for batteries, my driving efficiency is presently around 12-13kWhr/100km, I hope it stays here or even improves…

This is my story todate, I will update you on my 10K km.

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Date: 3rd October 2017

Energy & Hydrogen Workshop 

by James Carton

“A Role for Hydrogen in the Decarbonisation of the Irish Energy & Transport Systems ?”

Location: Dublin City University, Ireland

I organised the first National Workshop on “Energy Storage, Electro-mobility, Power-to-gas & Hydrogenheld in Ireland. I was trying to understand the interest and with over 100 registrations from industry, academia, government agencies and interested parties, there is a sizeable appetite for Hydrogen technology in Ireland!

 

 

Link To Hydrogen Workshop Poster

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Date: 22nd September 2017

Hydrogen-powered car gets first spin on Irish roads

by James Carton

Delighted to be interviewed by RTE’s Will Goodbody regarding Toyota Ireland test driving their new Hydrogen Mirai in Ireland. An electric Vehicle with 550km range, fuel produced from excess renewable energy, now this is the future!

 

Scientists and engineers, including a team at DCU led by Dr James Carton, are working hard to find ways of making hydrogen from green resources. This might involve hydrogen being produced using renewable energy, like wind turbines.

Dr Carton says “Ireland really has to catch up on that to introduce this opportunity and option for drivers, however,  in some ways it is to Ireland’s benefit that we wait until other countries have set up hydrogen fuel networks, to learn from their mistakes.  But now we should consider all options to build a clean transport system.”

See Link to News article:

Link to Video

See Link to RTE News Article

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Date:  13th September 2017

GenComm Project kickoff 

by James Carton

Delighted to be an Associate Partner and attend the start of GENCOMM (€9.39million) project, which will address the energy sustainability challenges of NWE communities through the implementation of smart hydrogen based energy matrixes. The project aims to validate the maturity of hydrogen technologies by implementing pilot plants that link renewable sources.

GenComm Launch

GenComm Launch

Link to Presentation

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