Review: Megahertz Electric Vehicle Open Day
Posted on: 25th Jul 2019
Reducing the UK's carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 is the target that has been set by a June 2019 amendment to the Climate Change Act 2008. If that is achieved, this could effectively end the UK’s contribution to climate change, according to Tom Lusher, analyst at Cornwall Insight, speaking at the recent Megahertz Open Day in Ely. In addition, with the London Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) set to expand in 2021, the pressure is mounting on broadcasters to either plan for EVs or face higher charges.
Greener newsgathering plays an essential role in meeting both these targets, which is why the Megahertz event on July 25th focused on providing visitors with invaluable insights into the hottest trends driving environmentally conscious mobile broadcasting.
The latest in electric vehicles
Industry thought leaders and broadcasters such as the BBC, CNN, AP and others such as local community group ‘Eco Ely' came together at the Megahertz factory and headquarters to exchange information and get hands on with some of the most eco-friendly vehicles on the market today. This very successful and forward-looking event, co-sponsored by Mercedes, introduced some of the very latest green news production concepts to the broadcast space whilst introducing the very latest electric vehicles (EV) available on the market and their related new in-vehicle technology.
It also provided an in-depth look into Megahertz’s systems integration services in relation to the creation of the world's first all-electric newsgathering vehicle, which was carefully and very cleverly designed to power everything without touching the 400V traction power system due to the manufacturer’s strict instructions. Megahertz developed a unique way of intercepting the charger socket, which negotiates with the power source and distribute the charging between the technical power and the traction power.
This allows the operator to determine the priorities at any time and to tap into the vehicle’s auxiliary 12V feed – which normally powers systems such as the windscreen wipers and radio – to get that extra time to just complete an edit or send a package.
Time to go electric
"If you use vehicles for newsgathering, sending/receiving media, streaming, surveillance, CCTV, or have any other on-board power requirements, now is the time to go electric," said John Flay, managing director of Megahertz. "As of today, there are only a handful of manufacturers and vehicle models available in the EV space, and they are mostly cars. That is why we gathered these speakers to help broadcasters understand upcoming commercial applications: what is going to happen and when, the state of the market, legislation and challenges faced by the EV market."
The opportunity to examine the first all-electric newsgathering vehicle, the ev-SAT, more closely at the event was welcomed by visitors. The ev-SAT concept vehicle is built on a Nissan e-NV200 electric van, and is in use with BBC News in London. ev-SAT contains the same standard equipment as diesel-powered units, Aluminium racks and fittings are used wherever possible to reduce weight, and cable runs have been carefully optimised. Lithium batteries are used for technical power, as they provide a considerable saving in terms of size and weight.
While the concept vehicle is built on a Nissan e-NV200 chassis, the design is such that it can be adapted to other, potentially slightly larger vehicles as they become available in pure plug-in electric form.
Successful transition to e-mobility
Speaking at the event, Cornwall Insight analyst Tom Lusher highlighted that the wider EV space is interlinked and involves cooperation between players across policy, regulatory, fleet, automotive, energy and charge point spaces. For the transition to e-mobility to be successful, a more holistic approach with greater engagement across the sectors needs to be taken, according to Lusher.
“There are still some specific hurdles to overcome, for example, there is a need to increase the supply of battery packs and vehicles to markets," he said. "It is also likely that there will be more government intervention in the market as they look to create an accessible, interoperable and affordable EV market.”
Lusher reminded the audience that the London Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) - designed to improve air quality in central London and operating 24/7 and charging vehicles that do not meet set emissions requirements for entering the zone – is set to expand from October 2021.
"This means that a larger number of vehicles will be required to become compliant or face a charge for entering the zone," he said. "There are several government grants available to assist with purchasing EVs and with charging. For vehicles, there are the plug-in car and van grants. These offer up to £3,500 off the “on the road” price of eligible 100% electric cars, and up to £8,000 off the cost of a new electric van respectively.”
Smart charging for EVs
Lusher also addressed the current issue of EV charging points, which has proven a barrier to adoption up to this point. He reminded the audience that on 18 July, the UK government announced three significant initiatives including the fact that all new rapid and ultra-rapid charge points will provide debit and credit card payments by 2020.
The government also launched a consultation on EV smart charging, which seeks views on ensuring that home charge points are capable of smart charging, are cyber-secure and interoperable. On the same day, another consultation was published, seeking views on changes to the English Building Regulations to ensure that new-build properties that fall under specific criteria have a charge point installed.
"The EV space is innovative, and many trials are taking place," concluded Lusher. "The work that has been undertaken by Megahertz to create a broadcasting solution that uses an electric van shows that EVs can be adapted to meet the needs of businesses and fleets."
The visitors particularly enjoyed exploring the ev-SAT and the new Mercedes e-Vito van, as well as test driving the Twizy car, provided by the University of Cambridge, where it used for running documents between buildings and of ferrying the maintenance and engineering crew around campus.
After the event, visitors commented on the excellent quality of the speakers at the Megahertz Open Day. "It was fantastic - the open and honest nature of the presentations was refreshing, straightforward and very helpful - addressing many of the challenges that we've been thinking about when it comes to lowering our carbon footprint in line with current and future legislation".