New Green Jack New Green Jack

12 responses to “Petrol Stations of the future – swap shop or not?”

    • Danny

      The system in central London seems to be working. I drive to the office, put the car on charge at a public car park. My wife drives it into the west end, she runs off a charging point. We visit a friend and we plug in if they have off street parking. When I started driving an EV I never thought it could work practically for a family , but it does. That’s on a car with a very limited range and first generation battery technology.

    • nommo

      I am warming to this idea of green charging stations… it needn’t just be about cars/bikes – most people on longer trips (or even pedestrians in an urban setting) might want to charge up other devices such as Ipods, mobile phones and so on while they sip coffee, eat some nice organic food, surf the net or read a book… it could be a whole new model for cyber-cafes.

      I still think that ‘swappable’ batteries are a very promising concept especially if they are small/light enough to have a few at home as a grid buffer..

      But I also think you are right that an international standard would be highly unlikely to emerge in the current climate. Shame. Pesky capitalism has no conscience…

    • Neil

      I agree that car parks and supermarkets could offer charging facilities and that people with driveways or garages can charge at home. But some people have only on-road parking or more communal arrangements, so I think your statement that “we’ll all have ‘petrol stations’ at home, since we can plug our cars in every night” is vastly overstated.

      On the other hand short journeys around town are exactly the sort we should be trying to replace with non car transport, leaving car use for longer or more complicated journeys.

    • Damon Hart-Davis


      The Chinese I believe are mandating a standard (USB) charging mechanism for mobile phones, and we have tonnes of standards for things such as plugs, house wiring, etc, some of which are given the status of law, so I’m sure it could be done if there was political will.



    • James

      @ Damon: That would be sweet if all mobile phones had USB charging! I agree with what you are saying about standards, it just took government to step-in in this particular case.

      @ General: Where there is a will there is a way. All these problems are tiny really, and often an inconvenience to life as you know it right now.

      It is very easy to sit there, do nothing, and poke holes. But to actually get up take action and start dreaming about solutions, that is where the fun is!

      Society has become complacent, technology is meant to assist so we can achieve more. My favourite example, the escalator, how many people actually walk on them, not stand, so they can arrive at the fun sooner?


    • Chris

      Dale, can you guesstimate what sort of carbon cost your electric car will have in terms of CO2/KM IF it were charged by standard fossil fuel generated electric?

      I’d just be interested to compare that figure to the average petrol car (which in Europe is about 160g/KM I think!) and also a similar spec’d sports car if you could suggest one.

      Apologies for deviating from the blog slightly!

    • jc

      What if the surface of the car was covered in PV cells to help with charging? Re-generative braking also?

      At last an eco car for petrol heads!

      – jc

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Sunlight hitting car surfaces in bright sunshine AT OPTIMAL ANGLE ~1kW/m^2. Usable surface area on car possibly 2m^2, and best plausible PV efficiency ~25% (wild hand-waving) thus ~500W at best in optimal conditions.

      Typical electric car consumption (eg NICE MegaCity) as much as ~10kW, ie 20 times more than you can generate from PV.

      Could help run the lights and help charge up in the car-park (I worked out that I could probably do without mains charging if I was very careful, at least outside mid-winter), but it’ll be hard pressed to help you motor much, especially on a cloudy day and/or at night!

      It still wish NICE/GW would integrate PV anyway.



    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Where I am with the nearest parking spot not guaranteed and no closer than about ~10m from the house and across a public footpath, any lead I ran from my house would get ‘borrowed’ in fairly short order (or the power would be).

      As to the USB charger standard, unfortunately there are plenty of reasons for manufacturers outside China to resist it, since (1) the chargers/replacements can be a nice little earner and a differentiator and (2) some bloody designers think that their latest shell is *so* neat that it deserves a new connector too and engineering their idea to accommodate USB would be *so* beneath their dignity… %-P



    • Phil

      Let’s take the charging idea a step further. Most UK towns these days have a retail park of one sort or another, not to mention indoor shopping centres with a large amount of roof space, much of it glass. Why not use this roof space? You wouldn’t even need the retail parks / shopping centre owners to do it, they could have a leasing agreement with utility companies to provide the kit. Stick solar and maybe small scale wind turbines on all of this unused urban real estate, then offer that energy to the customers. How about a floor dedicated to EV recharging in the shopping centre multistorey? Recharge your car while you shop. You get clean energy, plus the retailers get footfall and, in these days of heightened awareness, a USP for their centre. There’s the added advantage of minimal visual impact, as everything is in an already built up setting. I really don’t know why this isn’t already happening? Can anyone cost such an installation?