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uYilo South Africa: Electric Vehicles Make Power Portable

The Nissan RE-LEAF is a concept aimed at emergency response, providing power where there is none. Nissan’s design shows the EV concept can simultaneously power an electric jackhammer (24 hours – 36 kWh), a pressure ventilation fan (24 hours – 21.6 kWh), a 10-liter soup kettle (24 hours – 9.6 kWh), an intensive care medical ventilator (24 hours – 3 kWh) and a 100-watt LED floodlight (24 hours – 2.4 kWh) as part of relief efforts.

South Africa’s uYilo electric mobility program is a multi-stakeholder, collaborative program focused on enabling, facilitating, and mobilizing electric mobility in South Africa. Earlier this year, uYilo released its State of Electric Vehicles in South Africa Report. uYilo actually has a partnership with Nissan which dates back to 2013, when the eMobility Programme was established by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) of South Africa. Part of this collaboration has enabled uYilo to showcase the LEAF in demonstrating V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) and V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) possibilities over the years.

The uYilo Smart Grid Ecosystem for Electric Mobility. Picture courtesy of uYilo

According to its website, uYilo also provides support for electric mobility platforms while evaluating current and future technologies for electric vehicle components to aid in the implementation of advanced technologies to expand market applications. The facility additionally provides skills development along the associated high voltage systems within electric vehicles.

“Electric vehicles have an important role to play in energy supply,” says uYilo eMobility Programme Director Hiten Parmar. “While electricity demand is normally associated with EVs in terms of charging, they have the potential to also supply electricity where needed.”

“In addition to being a mode of transportation, an EV is a large mobile battery pack – and the energy contained therein is available on demand. This makes it possible to provide power in remote locations and during power outages, and fleets of EVs can change the grid dynamics which need to be managed by the national electricity provider”.

“There are daily changes in energy requirements, when people wake up and go to work and also when they arrive home and settle in to their evening routine,” says Parmar. “It is at these times when the grid is under strain as demand dramatically increases with many appliances used simultaneously. EVs have the ability to carry out behind-the-meter services (power used on site that does not go through the meter) and absorb the energy demand changes which significantly reduces the impact on the grid, smoothing out the curve to a far more manageable level – this has real potential in circumventing the need for load reduction.”

Nissan has rolled out a concept electric vehicle to showcase the beauty of portable power.

“While the RE-LEAF is shown as a concept, uYilo already has an active smart-grid demonstrator where solar power is employed for sustainable EV charging, second-life EV batteries are used for energy storage and the energy management is optimized to support both electric transportation and support the grid. This integrated system is an extension of Nissan’s Energy Share, ensuring an EV is always part of the energy system.”

RE-LEAF images courtesy of Nissan

The Nissan RE-LEAF is a concept aimed at emergency response, providing power where there is none. Nissan’s design shows the EV concept can simultaneously power an electric jackhammer (24 hours – 36 kWh), a pressure ventilation fan (24 hours – 21.6 kWh), a 10-liter soup kettle (24 hours – 9.6 kWh), an intensive care medical ventilator (24 hours – 3 kWh) and a 100-watt LED floodlight (24 hours – 2.4 kWh) as part of relief efforts.

RE-LEAF images courtesy of Nissan

“This bi-directional energy system (power sharing) is already in use and the uYilo Live-Testing Environment facility includes this functionality where EVs charge and also support the energy system,” says Parmar. “There have been several occasions around the world where EV owners provided their own power when disasters have impacted national electricity supply. Concepts like the RE-LEAF are an extension of this real-world situation.”

You can check out more stories on the developments in the V2G space here. Another interesting aspect of uYilo’s projects is the use of second life batteries. There are now over 7 million electric passenger vehicles are now on the road worldwide, according to the Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020 from BloombergNEF. There are also now over 500,000 e-buses, almost 400,000 electric delivery vans and trucks, 184 million electric mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles on the road globally. The record sales in many markets in recent months this year such as in the United Kingdom and other markets means there is a growing inventory of vehicles whose batteries can be repurposed in future for stationary storage applications.

“Electric vehicles will be a significant contributor to the transportation technology mix, this is already accepted” says Parmar. “It is the additional aspects around owning an EV that need to be shared, to see how they can further enhance and improve our lives.”

 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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