By: Sammy Fry, Net Zero Lead at Tech Nation on EV technology
With just days to go until the UK hosts COP26, public demand for real action against climate change has never been greater. Companies, cities, and countries are under increasing regulatory, economic and social pressure to prioritise the climate action agenda and commit to ambitious ‘net zero’ emissions targets.
Tech is playing an enormous role in the UK’s race to zero – and its impact is being noted by investors. Our research earlier this year revealed that the UK saw a 21% increase in investment in climate tech and agriculture companies in 2020, reaching a record $798 million. This trend has continued throughout 2021 as we come out of the pandemic, with investment in climate tech currently at an all-time high of $1.51bn.
With the transport sector emitting approximately 14% of the global emissions, we need to support UK tech companies who are innovating in this space, developing and facilitating the adoption of electric vehicles (EV) to reduce traffic pollution, accelerate change to sustainable supply chains, and revolutionise freight delivery systems to decarbonise the sector.
EV technology has been an area gaining a lot of traction within climate tech. While you may have heard of electric cars, EV technology refers to more than just companies like Tesla. There are a wide range of exciting UK companies out there who fall under the EV tech umbrella, and it’s important that we recognise their role and contribution in helping to reduce emissions from carbon intensive sectors and combat climate change.
Here are just a few of the ways EV technology is helping us reduce the UK’s carbon emissions – and some of the amazing UK-based EV companies who are leading the charge:
#1 EV tech is solving the problem of last-mile delivery
You’ve likely heard a lot of buzz around electric cars recently – and people are right to be getting excited! Just one electric car on the roads can save an average of 1.5 million grams of CO2 over the course of a year. That’s the equivalent of four return flights from London to Barcelona!
However, there are a wide range of electric vehicles out there who are helping businesses – as well as consumers – reduce their carbon footprint. For example, one of the companies selected to join this year’s Net Zero growth programme is Electric Assisted Vehicles Limited (EAV). EAV creates last mile zero emission and lightweight commercial vehicles, which have been engineered down from a van, not up from a bicycle.
These electric vehicles are licensed to go on both roads and cycle paths, making it easy for them to deliver goods to any area or building.
Technologies like this are extremely useful in solving the problem of last-mile delivery (the last part of a business’ supply chain, where goods are moved from a transportation hub to their final destination), which has historically been very emissions-intensive.
Essentially, they’re a logistically convenient choice for businesses – as other larger vehicles may struggle to access some neighbourhoods – and are a great choice for ecommerce companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
#2 EV tech is keeping pollutants off the roads and out of the atmosphere
Did you know that over time, your car’s tyres shed harmful micro-plastic particles into the air?
Tyre wear is the second-largest microplastic pollutant in our oceans and a stealthy source of air particulate matter pollution. In fact, according to one 2017 study, tyres produce 550 tons of airborne particles annually. So, while issues like this are rarely talked about, they’re massively impacting the health of our planet.
The good news is that there are EV tech companies who are innovating to combat this issue.
For example, The Tyre Collective is one company which has built a solution to save our air from tyre wear by capturing and monitoring it, as they have created hardware that attaches onto vehicles’ tyres (on both electric and combustion engine vehicles).
Technologies like this tend to be at an earlier funding stage, and The Tyre Collective is currently still in R&D, but these important technologies are gaining traction in the climate tech space, and could make a tangible difference to the carbon footprint of the automotive industry in future.
Tackling the issue of tyre wear is an important part of the UK reaching net zero by 2050, because by saving materials and recycling them, we reduce carbon emissions – everything is indirectly connected!
#3 EV tech makes it more convenient for customers and businesses to go green
One of the biggest barriers to consumers and businesses opting for electric vehicles over combustion engines is the issue of how inconvenient they can be to charge.
‘Range anxiety’ – when you are worried about being too far from a charging point – is a real issue among EV drivers, and to make matters worse, different charging stations are owned by lots of different operators, meaning drivers have to download a new app to charge their EV each time.
Thankfully, there are a range of climate tech businesses also working to tackle this issue. Paua Tech Limited is one company working to make public electric vehicle charging a simpler experience, as it has built a mobile app for drivers to find, charge and pay for different charge points – owned by multiple different operators – in one place, and easily see where the closest charging station is.
Miralis Data have also created Fuuse, a software platform designed to offer control, flexibility and access options for EV operators and installers, as well as monitoring hardware faults to increase efficiency and managing power levels via its system to optimise energy usage. They are also tackling new issues within EV charging, such as monitoring bays being taken up by non-electric cars or those which are not using the charging system, in order to maximise their usage.
Technologies such as these are hugely important as they encourage more people to use electric vehicles by removing any blockers – from affordability and range anxiety to convenience and ease.
Reaching net zero with EV tech
Supporting these companies is key to combating the emissions crisis we face in the UK. However, research has shown that 40% of ‘net zero’ technologies being developed in the UK are yet to reach mass market, meaning there is huge potential still to be realised.
It’s imperative that key industry stakeholders realise how vital these companies are in accelerating the EV transition. At such a crucial point in the climate crisis, the need to scale these technologies could not be greater.