The team arrived safely in the front of Harpa conference centre on the Sunday before the conference after a rather smooth rider along the south coast of Iceland. The CHARGE team had gone into some lengthy discussion if the cars should be cleaned up and polished before arriving in front of Harpa in downtown Reykjavik where they would be on display for the guests arriving at the conference the following day. We decided to have the cars dirty as a proof that they have gone around some challenging roads in the Icelandic countryside, over mountains and on gravel on occasion. This deliberation turned out to be useless, Mother Nature stepped in and cleaned the cars with heavy rainfall along the southern coast.
When arriving in Reykjavik, Stuart sounded a bit apologetic. He knew that we had been waiting for him to come back and give a presentation on the big adventure he, his mother and Mark had participated in but it really turned out to be as uneventful as any road trip. Just like any other road trip, a goat invaded the car, they left the North of Iceland the morning before the first snow of winter and drove over a glacial river the same day as massive temporary repairs had been done on the bridge that had been washed away in floods the week before. And they did not exactly stay on the Ring Road around Iceland and only stopping for their vehicles to recharge. They went off the Ring Road on several occasions. One time for a shortcut over one of the most feared mountain roads in the East of Iceland but on other occasions to lengthen the total distance travelled by 400 kilometres.
The CHARGE mobiles arrived in Hof after driving in great conditions from Höfn. The week before the group arrived in Iceland, heavy rain in the South and East of Iceland caused floods that ruptured Road 1. Construction crews had just finished putting up a temporary bridge when the Electric cars arrived.
While the group had left the North the day before the first snow of the autumn, the first leg of the journey on the South coast of Iceland had still some remnants of summer – sun and up to eleven degrees centigrade.
Stuart, Mark and Anita stopped by Jökulsárlón, a lagoon full of ice from the glacier above before heading off to Hof, their destination. At Hof, they got to plug their vehicles while they rested for the day ahead.
The road ahead would be the last leg where the electric cars could rely on the few-and-far-between fast-charging stations in rural Iceland. After staying the night at Blönduós in cottages at the banks of the river Blanda, they would venture on and stay the night in Húsavík which is the furthest north they will go on the trip. Húsavík is a detour off the ring-road around Iceland thus lengthening the total distance of the road-trip.
This leg of the road-trip would take them over three mountain roads. Though these roads are not as dramatic as they sound (at least not for natives) they are a steep climb for the electric vehicles which would be put to the test.
The group picked up a fellow traveller and EV enthusiast, Michael Nevin who is the British Ambassador to Iceland. He got to drive the KIA from Varmahlíð to Akureyri.
While the travellers renourished over lunch with the ambassador, the cars got their electrons at the last fast charging station for a long time.
From Akureyri they ventured off to the picturesque village of Húsavík which lies further up North in the bay of Skjálfandi. There they charged up at the mid-speed charge point provided by the municipality.
The next leg of the journey will be a challenging one – they will venture up to higher altitude to a landscape thought to be so much out of this earth that NASA trained astronauts for the Apollo missions there to help them prepare for the moon.
Electricity from renewable sources pours from the wall sockets of Icelandic homes. A vast majority of the country’s car fleet is, however, powered by fossil fuels. Electric vehicles are a viable option in Reykjavik, the nation’s capitals, where two-thirds of the population lives. But traveling around between the remote and spread out rural villages is a challenge no one has taken on.
One of the guests attending last year was Stuart McBain, an accountant from England who specializes in clients that have a sustainability focus. He was so thrilled with the conference that he stated: “I will be attending CHARGE for the rest of my life!”. Stuart has been an electric car owner for some years now and is quite passionate about the transformation from fossil fuels to electricity.
I will be attending CHARGE for the rest of my life!
His passion has literally driven him around the coastline of Britain in an electric car and he is planning to drive along the equator as well.
Stuart is a man of his words but wanted to give something back and deliver a presentation about his passion for renewable energy and sustainability. In a conversation with Dr. Fridrik Larsen, he kindly asked for a slot on the EV track. Since the demand for speaking slots is higher than supply, Fridrik thought that Stuart would have to earn his slot on stage: “Only if you put your money where your mouth is and drive around Iceland before the conference” (well… not really but it sounds kind of cool).
Stuart will attempt to drive the ring-road around Iceland in an electric car accompanied by his 81-year-old mother and his friend Mark Gorecki. The ring road, or Highway 1, is only 1332 km long but there are many challenges for an electric vehicle. For one, there is no network or infrastructure of charge points and another is the number of mountains they will need to drive up along the way.
…there is no network or infrastructure of charge points
Stuart claims that he does not know the term Range Anxiety which is good since there are often more than 100 kilometers between villages along the way and a portion of the trip takes them through the deserted Martian landscape of the Icelandic highlands with an elevation of 600 meters above sea level and not a farm, village or survival shelter in sight for 170 kilometers. If the ring road is not too much of a challenge for them, they might go off the ring road to visit a village or two in a remote fjord.
If Stuart makes it back in time he will give a presentation at CHARGE and share his adventure as well as talk about his passion for sustainability and electric vehicles.
Sustainability has been a part IKEA’s identity since it’s humble beginnings in Sweden decades ago. Guðný Camilla Aradóttir is the Sustainability Responsible at IKEA Iceland, taking care of sustainability issues. The goal of the brand is to eliminate waste at all time.
IKEA’s sustainability strategy, titled People & Planet Positive, set out some ambitious goals for the brand to head towards more sustainability. IKEA operates wind farms around the world and has installed solar panels on the rooftops of its store locations around the world, installed panels on office buildings and even sold solar panels for homes at some of its locations.
Eneco was one of the first of the established energy utilities in the world to become fully renewable and became the frontrunner in the Dutch energy industry in the production of electricity from sustainable sources. Regine Alewijnse, Brand Manager of Eneco presented the brand’s story and the challenges that are facing truly renewable companies when many companies in the energy value chain present themselves as renewable when in fact, a majority of them are renewable only as far as the marketing message goes.
To further the point, Regine explained how sustainability can become more than a hollow marketing message, by making sustainability a valuable brand asset.
Eneco’s approach has not only been to offer renewable energy and offer customers a choice but also to enable customers the possibility to monitor their energy usage and helping them to cut down usage without noticing it by offering software that monitors and detects usage.
One of the first speakers that were recruited for CHARGE 2016 was Marko Kruithof from Stedin in the Netherlands. Stedin is a DSO that services 3 of the 4 largest cities in the Netherlands; The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht.
Marko gave his presentation during the transmission and distribution session in Reykjavik last September. The future of energy is changing fast for the regulated monopolies as well as retailers operating in a competition environment. As Marko says, Stedin has installed around 30.000 charging points for electric cars in the last few years to meet the demand generated by the 100.000 electric vehicles on the roads in the Netherlands.
The consumer should be our fan; he pays our salaries
Stedin received the CHARGE Awards as the World’s Best Energy brand in their category and it is not a coincidence. Branding is at the core of the company’s strategy and vision – they are not only looking at the needs of the consumer of today but try to be prepared and anticipate the needs of the consumer of tomorrow. Stedin has centralized the customer but focus their branding programme also internally to have everyone in line with their mission.
Marko’s full presentation from Reykjavik at CHARGE 2016 can be viewed in the player below.