Mehta: "Italy sits at the heart of ABB’s electric vehicle infrastructure strategy” Stampa E-mail

Mehta: “Italy sits at the heart of ABB’s
electric vehicle infrastructure strategy”

di DAVIDE CANEVARI Visita il profilo LinkedIn

Mr Tarak Mehta, what’s the role of e-mobility in the ongoing global energy transition?
According to the
Environmental Protection Agency, fossil- fuel transportation accounts for nearly 30 percent of global greenhouse gases. The electrification of mobility has a key role to play in addressing this worrying statistic and setting us on a course to a greener and more sustainable future.
There are many ambitious predictions: for example that by 2040, there will be 559 million EVs on the road and 55 percent of all new car sales and 33 percent of the global fleet will be electric. Or that all new road vehicles will be entirely electric by 2030. While we are still a way off hitting such figures we are making good progress towards a more sustainable transport solution.
As part of our commitment to write the future of energy, we have launched our Mission to Zero, ABB group’s first CO2-neutral and energy self-sufficient factory in the world. E-mobility is a key component of this solution, with EV charging infrastructure integrated into a digitally interconnected ecosystem which also comprises solar technology, battery energy storage and smart switchgear for energy distribution.
This state of the art solution represents the potential to successfully transition from from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources and we hope it will serve as an example to inspire change across industry and cities on a global scale.

Are the technologies available today capable of facing up to the challenges of transport electrification?
Supporting our vision for the electrification of transport we must look at generating a robust plan to meet this demand.
Firstly, that means continued investment, both in the development of battery technology to enable greater range and cost efficiencies and in the deployment of a widespread charging infrastructure network, something we are proud to be supporting key customers such as Electrify America and IONITY on achieving.
Secondly, we must focus on charging technology standardization and interoperability. The automotive industry only needs to look at the electric public transport sector to see that adoption rates are significantly bolstered as the number of competing charging standards decrease. Now is the time to replicate this for passenger vehicles, something we will continue to work closely with stakeholders on.

And then?
We must also recognize the need to evolve our energy ecosystem to enable a truly zero emission transport future.
The integration of renewable energy sources, the installation of smarter home technologies linked to private EV charging units and the adoption of EVs with expanded battery capacities could in the future turn homes around the world into self-sufficient grids.

Europe, USA, Asia… their markets have their own specific set of needs and different development models. How can a global group such as ABB fine tune its offering to fit different markets?
At ABB we operate with a
customer first approach. This means that we are committed to delivering solutions which meet the needs of our customers and the end user. As one of the founders of both the CHAdeMO and CCS alliance charging standards we have been central to the development of multiple markets and have constantly innovated to meet the needs of those markets.
For example, ABB was the first to launch cloud connected chargers with remote monitoring functionality in 2012 and the first to launch its high-power charger offering 350 kW.

Suppose we achieve widespread widely electrified transportation systems, with millions of electric cars on our roads. What measures should be taken upstream on infrastructures in our cities, e.g. on power distribution lines?
ABB customers benefit from our unique offering as we are not only able to deliver market leading EV charging solutions but can also provide the technology to ensure its sustainable operation through connection to the medium voltage grid.
ABB is very active in power systems and automation for industries, electric utilities and electric grid companies. In industry for example the power levels are already significantly higher than we are using for EV charging. The trick is in how to get the energy to the user. This is where ABB offers a lot of knowledge and solutions.

For example…
ABB is responding to the increasing demand for connectivity for energy-efficient and climate-friendly vehicle charging stations with its Compact Secondary Substation. ABB’s substation packages provide a solution for connecting E-mobility chargers to medium voltage networks, designed to fit car, bus, and truck charging applications.
The low voltage charging infrastructure cannot support fast charging or multiple car charging at one time effectively, and it is therefore necessary to connect to the MV power grid. It is important that installation and commissioning time and risks are minimized, local utility standards are met and charging reliability is prioritized. ABB is able to offer the full spectrum solution which delivers against all of these needs.

What’s your view on the vehicle to grid technology?
In the future, vehicle to grid technology will play a significant role in revolutionising the e-transport ecosystem. Car batteries could be used to not only store energy, but that energy could then be sold back to the grid, enabling residential and commercial customers and communities to become active participants in the energy revolution.
Currently there is no larger scale commercial business case - this needs to change first if the technology is to break through.

Is Italy regarded as a strong production centre in ABB strategy? What are the other sites of reference for production?
Italy sits at the heart of ABB’s electric vehicle infrastructure strategy. ABB in Italy produces most of ABB’s electric vehicle fast charging solutions. These include
Terra 53, the best-selling 50 kW DC charging station in Europe and North America, Terra HP, the ABB high-power fast-charging station for electric vehicles capable of adding 200 km of range in just 8 minutes, and the eBus charger for public transportation, which allows for the widespread use of zero-emission buses in urban areas. Other production sites are in Hungary, China, Mexico and the US.
ABB is also building a new, fully sustainable, global headquarters and R&D center in the Netherlands to advance its market leading position in EV charging infrastructure. The 10 million dollar, 3,600 m2 facility, due to launch in 2019, emphasizes ABB’s commitment to advancing developments in the field of sustainable mobility.
With interoperability the key focus for ABB chargers, the building will be fitted with the latest technology to ensure that ABB chargers are compatible with all types of vehicle.

Key features of the new center include?
Simulators (95 percent of all tests to be conducted with a digital copy of vehicles loaded into the simulator), environmental rooms (systems will be subjected to extreme conditions, including a temperature range of – 40 to +40 degrees Celsius and high humidity), testing areas large enough for a public transport bus to drive inside.

You recently signed cooperation agreements with some top automotive brands. What are these agreements aimed at?
ABB’s collaboration with leading OEM’s, in their role as nationwide charging network operators is crucial in supporting the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Our partnership with Electrify America and IONITY, will see the deployment of hundreds of high-power charging stations to create a network across the US and Europe, making long distance travel as feasible for EV’s as for fossil-fuel vehicles.
Alongside, we are working with other OEMs including Porsche in Japan and Audi in New Zealand to deliver efficient and convenient fast and high-power charging infrastructure across their dealer networks.

Speaking of leading technologies, why did ABB choose to become the first ever title sponsor of the E-Formula championship?
This partnership is a natural fit for ABB. The ABB FIA Formula E Championship provides ABB with a unique opportunity to engage with customers around the world while building a more sustainable future.
Formula E, as the world’s first fully electric international FIA motorsport series, serves as a competitive platform to test and develop e-mobility-relevant electrification and digitalization technologies, helping refine the design and functionality of electric vehicle components and accelerate the transition and uptake of e-mobility on a global scale.

What have been the takeaways of this experience so far?
ABB’s presence as title partner has enhanced the global visibility of the championship, by virtue of our being a blue-chip technology leader, able to bring our marketing, branding and communications activities to the sport. This has been of mutual benefit to both partners.
ABB customers and employees, meanwhile, have given exceptionally positive feedback throughout Season 5, with regard to ABBFE providing a stimulating and exciting arena.
This year, there has also been a direct technical collaboration between ABB and the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series that supports the main championship: specially adapted ABB
Terra 53 DC chargers are used to power the I-PACE racecars at every round.

How much of Formula E racing cars technology can be applied directly to everyday road cars and made accessible to consumers?
ABB technology is already in use within the championship. In September 2018 we announced the agreement with Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series. Partnering with the world’s first all-electric production- based car support series, builds on ABB’s role as title sponsor of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and extends the company’s commitment to writing the future of mobility, showcasing automotive and charging technology which is avaialble today to the general public.
Within this partnership, ABB is providing custom-made, compact versions of the fast chargers, thousands of which are installed across the globe, for each of the participating teams in this new electric racing series.
Terra DC fast chargers were specially designed for the series and are capable of quickly charging the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY racecars in the short breaks between practice, qualifying and the races.

E-mobility is not all about cars. Local public transportation, for example, is another key sector…
Yes absolutely. We are also supporting the growing trend in eBuses and electric fleets, with a comprehensive portfolio of heavy vehicle chargers. We recently collaborated on the launch of the world’s first 12 metre autonomous, fully electric passenger bus, providing our HVC 300P fast charging system which delivers 300 kW DC power and will recharge the buses battery in just three to six minutes.

One last provocative question. A massive blackout hit South America just a few months ago, don’t you think possible power outage scenarios could be even more disturbing considering the huge consequences blackouts may have on transportation models that rely extensively on e-mobility?
Certainly, electric mobility represents a significant demand that requires a reliable energy supply. This, however, is also an opportunity, when we think about enabling faster and more flexible power restoration procedures.
We need to plan emerging EV infrastructure carefully in order to control the impact of potential power outages, as well as ensuring emergency plans are in place in case of unforeseen events. As part of this, it is possible to incorporate emergency charging station concepts or an emergency power supply to charging stations, that can be easily activated locally. A combination with PV or other on-site generation sources is particularly attractive.
Another technological opportunity is battery storage systems, that are increasingly accessible and beneficial to even residential customers, especially in congested networks with photovoltaic systems. In the long term, we could even look to use the energy that is stored in car batteries to restart the power grid.
In addition to focusing on power restoration, we can also do so much more with modern technology to increase levels of autonomy and automation on grids and to enable more robust infrastructures. This includes both communications, IT and AI technologies.

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