What are the challenges for transformation to full electromobility in Sweden? Linda Olofsson is director at Swedish Electromobility Center (SEC), a national Centre of Excellence for electric and hybrid vehicles and infrastructure in Sweden, and we had a chat with her about their work and research.
Linda, please tell us about your journey into technology and research and how you arrived at SEC
I have always been a very curious person and was drawn to science early on. When it was time for the university, I chose engineering physics at Chalmers and realized that I saw great opportunities in what I learned. I stayed and gained a PhD before choosing to become an entrepreneur and develop an idea that I had. In this way, I have continued to see opportunities in new research and how results could be used in industry and society. My driving force to create benefit and contribute to a better future has taken me from many years as manager at RISE, to the decision to become Director of the Swedish Electromobility Centre: people want to be mobile and we must find a sustainable way to be that.
What is Swedish Electromobility Centre?
The Swedish Electromobility Centre is an engine, fueled by collaboration, curiosity and a will to make a change. Our role is to be a world-class research center for research and development of electric propulsion and energy supply for road and work vehicles (hybrid and electric vehicles), but also for air and sea transport vessels. We are an arena where Sweden’s industry, universities and government agencies meet and collaborate to generate new technology, insights and competence for the future.
Our aim is to generate knowledge within the field of electromobility that builds the foundation for a sustainable society, where it is possible to stay mobile and at the same time make environmentally conscious choices. By investing in high quality research today, we gain the knowledge needed to enable a systematic change of society tomorrow.
Please tell us more about SEC:s five thematic areas
SEC has five thematic areas. They are:
System studies and methods, Electrical machines, drive systems and charging, Energy storage, Electromobility in society, and Interaction between vehicles and grid, which is our newest theme that started during stage IV last year. Through our thematic areas, we bring together the Swedish automotive industry and technical universities with a range of different research disciplines. All are connected through their relevance for electric and hybrid vehicle technology. We promote both deep, narrow technical studies, cross-discipline and cross-institution research. We also have ways of working cross-thematically, which enables knowledge exchange across our different theme areas.
According to you, which are the strongest challenges for a transformation to full electromobility in Sweden (with a high penetration of EVs and an extended network of charging stations etc)?
This is a difficult question. There are many challenges and a lot of effort and investments are made to deal with them. At SEC we have acknowledged the need to build scenarios in order to identify possible showstoppers in this process. We have initiated a cross-program prestudy The Electromobility Scenarios project. The purpose is to develop scenarios which describes an electromobility system and how it fits into a few potential futures. The scenarios will describe most important factors which shape the electromobility system for example: Vehicles, Powertrain technologies, Charging infrastructure, How vehicles are used and charged, Environment and resources, Energy supply, Economy, Policy and regulations.
Are there any specific SEC projects you would like to highlight (for interesting findings or interesting partners etc)?
We are still in the beginning of our new stage and we closed our first call in January and granted some 15 new projects in fierce competition with a budget of almost 30 MSEK. Our second call will close in April. These projects are all highly interesting and relevant for the field of electromobility and it will be very exciting to follow them. Many of the projects will be presenting their results at our Electromobility days in September. The Electromobility scenarios described above is one of the projects that will present results.
It seems as the hype of autonomous vehicles (level 4-5) are descending in the hype cycle. Instead we can foresee (or we already experience) an electromobility revolution. Do you agree? What main consequences do you foresee for 1) society, 2) automotive manufacturers?
I believe we will see both, autonomous electric vehicles. It will be good for society but hard competition in the automotive industry.