Electrical power is a bit like air, you do not realize its importance until it is gone. Every time we turn on the light, electric appliances or simply plug in our smartphone its electricity that makes everything possible and it triggers one particular question. Can it be any better?
The answer is YES! Although, some of you might not realize it, we are witnesses to a transportation revolution. Meet the e-car: an electronic automobile that is eco-friendlier and saves you money. We all have a good idea today where fossil fuels come from, but what is the process with respect to electricity? Let’s find out how electricity comes to be, how it travels into the car, and how it puts all this into motion.
WHEN WATER FALLS, ENERGY IS CREATED
Everything starts at power plants and there are many of them. Because we are talking about clean mobility here, we are going to focus on hydropower plants that produce a clean renewable source of energy that does not pollute the environment. How does it work?
|DID YOU KNOW?|
|Hydropower is one of the oldest energy sources on the planet.|
|The oldest hydroelectric plant is at Cragside, England.|
|Niagara Falls is one of the major hydroelectric plants in the US.|
It’s pretty simple. Water turbines are run by huge amounts of water. Just think of them as very efficient waterwheels that drive generators directly. At a hydroelectric plant, a river is backed up behind a huge concrete dam. The water flows through a relatively small opening called a ‘penstock’ and, while flowing through the opening, it causes one or more turbines to spin around. If the river flows, the turbines spin, and the dam generates hydroelectric power. For enthusiasts of clean mobility and people who really care about our environment, here comes the best part: It produces no pollution or emissions whatsoever.
THE PATH OF ELECTRICITY
And this raises the question: Where does all the electricity go? It travels very fast to every needed destination. Electricity is unique in that no other resource can get to its final use in the blink of an eye. Just imagine that in the time it takes you to turn on a light, the electricity could have travelled around the earth approximately four times.
While a power plant is in operation, electricity has its journey ahead of it. Electrical power travels to your home through an amazing, complex system known as “the grid”.
Electricity is sent through transformers in order to increase the voltage. The power then flows through transmission lines which carry electricity over long distances at extremely high voltages, eventually (well, in nanoseconds) to charging stations which supply it to the customers. The transmission towers, known as ‘pylons’, are connected with long cables, and this huge complex of systems makes it possible for us to power cities without building enormous and dirty power plants in the middle of them.
PLUG IT IN, CHARGE IT
After its long but very rapid journey, electricity finally comes to life in a charging station. One old fashioned but most common consideration that people ponder in deciding whether or not to buy an e-car concerns the enormous number of petrol stations but relatively small number of charging stations. Even though e-mobility depends on charging stations, it has its undisputable benefits. The price of petrol is slowly but surely rising and the number of charging stations is increasing.
So, what are other reasons people purchase e-cars? Several factors make e-cars more convenient to society and friendlier to the environment, and then there’s price. Although an e-car’s original purchase price is quite high, its operating costs are low. Moreover, you can charge your automobile at home, thereby creating no emissions, and the charging costs you very little in comparison to the cost of petrol.
We just learned that there is not much difference between an electric and a petrol-powered automobile, and the former is pretty easy to manage once the matter of its charging is resolved. There exist various options for charging, including differences in the manner of connection and speed of charging. As the e-car market is growing, there is an expanding need for widely distributed, publicly accessible charging stations, some of which should support faster charging at higher voltages.
Here are a few basic points to give you an idea how it all works: There are three types of connection. In the first case, the charger is connected directly to the electricity supply (such as you might have in your garage at home). In the second, the car has an on-board charger and a separate cable can be disconnected both from the car and the power source. Third, there are dedicated charging stations (such as in public parking places). Moreover, there are at least four different kinds of plugs, depending on what kind of car you have and where you live.
Probably one of the most important aspects of charging relates to voltage and speed. A direct current (DC 500 V) system can charge up your car in a matter of minutes while an alternating current (AV 250 V) system will do so over the course of the day or night.
Battery-charging time can be as short as 20 minutes or as long as 12 hours. Charging time depends upon the capacity of the battery and speed of the charging point. Basically, you’ll never know until you try it. Many owners don’t worry about their range, because they basically leave their cars on the charger through the night just like they do their telephones.
Here is an explanation from ŠKODA showing how it works. VISION E is one of our latest and best creations, but today this is much more than just a concept. It is an example of how future electric cars from ŠKODA can actually develop.
SO WHAT RUNS OUR ŠKODA?
|Top speed||180 km/h|
|Range||up to 500 km|
Let’s run through some numbers and see what it’s all about. The electric motors generate a constant output of 225 kW. One motor (150 kW) sends power to the rear wheels and the other produces 75 kW of power for the front wheels. Thanks to the 450 Nm maximum torque
from zero rpm, ŠKODA VISION E is the most dynamic ŠKODA of all the time. Electric energy is supplied by a lithiumion battery - it takes 30 minutes on a rapid (DC) charger to charge it to 80 %.
So, what else should we mention? Maybe just that all of these aspects together give VISION E an outstanding range of 500 km. Even the best electric cars of today do not yet achieve even 400 km. For daily driving, 500 km is more than enough. For example, that range would allow one to drive from one end of the Czech Republic to the other, from west to east, on a single charge.