Please provide an overview of ACCIONA and it is place in the Middle East market
ACCIONA opened its first Middle East office in Dubai in 2008. Since then, Dubai has been the hub and expansion platform from which ACCIONA has carried out its activity throughout the Gulf region and other Arab countries.
ACCIONA has been awarded various water treatment facilities in the UAE. The 136,000 m3/day seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant at Fujairah-1 and the 185,000 m3/day one at Jebel Ali are the most relevant examples.
Through its Construction business unit, ACCIONA has executed the expansion of the Dubai Metro Red Line to the Expo2020 site and the modernization of the Green Line. The company is also building one of the largest photovoltaic plants in the World, the 800Mw Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park (Phase III), in Dubai.
ACCIONA Producciones y Diseño is also now established in the Middle East region, especially in the United Arab Emirates where it has important contribution to the UAE, Sustainability and the 36 Thematic Pavilions. The Services business unit and Energy division have also several active projects in the region such as the Muscat International and the Salalah Airports.
How and when did Acciona decide to create the EcoPowered 100% (EP100)?
The ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered project kicked off in 2015, after more than two years of technical development. ACCIONA’s objective was to create the first zero-emission vehicle capable of competing in the world’s toughest race, the Dakar Rally. This commitment followed two previous sustainable challenges (the Windpowered Antarctica 2011 scientific expedition and the Vendée Globe 2012 sailing race), with which ACCIONA showed the competitiveness of clean energies in the most demanding environments. Since then, ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered has competed in five continents, paving the way for sustainable mobility in high competition.
What makes it the most energy-efficient car in the world?
The big difference from conventional vehicles is the engine efficiency. An internal combustion engine has an efficiency of 30% -40% in the best cases. This means that it is wasting more than half of the energy (in terms of gasoline) in order to move the vehicle! This fact in an electric vehicle does not happen.
The electric vehicle has an efficiency of 75-80% being able of reaching a maximum efficiency of 95-98% so that the use of energy is considerably more efficient. This is possible because in the electric motor there is no explosions, frictions and high temperatures that are factors that reduce dramatically the efficiency of an engine.
In addition, the EP100 is designed to be as efficient as possible. Especially the powertrain, which is thought to work in its most efficient range that is in between 3000-4000 rpm in order to avoid wasting energy.
How has the EP100 evolved over the years?
The EP100 has evolved radically over the years. The propulsion system changed from a 4×2 to a 4×4. In terms of weight, it’s the area where a major change happened; from 3600 kg to 2400kg of the final model. Also, the dimensions were modified making the car wider and shorter. Finally, another battery pack was added in order to increase the vehicle range.
Once with the prototype finished, the process of optimization and electronic evolution began.
Why build a rally car? What is it about the type of challenging racing in often-extreme climates that makes it attractive for ACCIONA?
This project is part of a trilogy in which projects for the air, water and ground were propelled with only sustainable energy. A sled pushed by the force of the wind for crossing the South Pole, a self-sufficient sailboat to cross the world, so … Why not an electric vehicle for the Dakar?
ACCIONA’s philosophy tries to prove that there is a sustainable way of doing things, even in extreme adventures as these cases.
Looking back, how important was being the first-ever zero-emissions car to complete Dakar back in 2015 in proving that the technology works?
Being the first electric car to finish this race represents a milestone in the history of motorsport. Many people thought it was going to be impossible and the EP100 proved them that they were wrong.
By finishing the hardest and toughest race in the world, the EP100 has definitively demonstrated the validity of this technology and in this way, breaking one more barrier for the electrification of the mobility.
How does it fit into the Company’s overall strategy as a developer of sustainable infrastructure and energy technology?
The ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered car is in line with ACCIONA’s philosophy and gives visibility to its fight against climate change. It is a pioneering vehicle that represents the evolution and the leading role of renewable energies in a context in which they are essential for the sustainability of the planet. In addition, the R&D&I work applied to the first zero-emission vehicle of the more than 19,000 vehicles that have competed in the Dakar Rally confirms the reliability and the technical demands that the company incorporates into its projects.
What role do the drivers have in the development of the vehicle to date?
Pretty much important. The driver who has driven the vehicle for the most km is Ariel Jatón, is also the mechanical coordinator of the project. He knows perfectly all the technical aspects and the operation of the EP100.
Following all his experience in motorsport and his enthusiasm in this ACCIONA project, the vehicle has been redesigned and optimized until reaching the great sustainable icon that it is today.
How does the vehicle compare when driving with other rally cars?
Because of using a very different technology, electric cars have advantages and disadvantages compared to combustion vehicles.
In terms of performance, the electric car is much better. It gives you all the torque from the first moment, allows the center of gravity to be lower with all the dynamic advantages that it entails and the reliability and the maintenance of the mechanical components is much better and more economical since they have less wear.
On the other hand, the electric cars present limitations in terms of recharging, range and battery weight.
Although these drawbacks, today a great investment is being made to develop new batteries that are lighter and have more energy and it is obvious that if the market continues to evolve, as it is doing, there will come a time that the electric car will far exceed to combustion vehicles.
How do you keep the support operation and the transport from one rally to the next as green as possible?
It all depends on the infrastructure of the competition. On some occasions, the EP100 has been recharged in the middle of the desert and as it seems logical, there is no way possible to connect to the electricity grid. In these cases, it was used a generator for recharging the batteries. However, the average fuel consumption of the generator is around 4 or 5 liters for charging the whole car, while combustion cars use 500liter tanks with consumptions close to 50-60 liters per 100km. The difference in the environmental impact is abysmal.
On the other side, in other competitions the EP100 has been able to recharge in buildings that have solar panel installations like in Baja Italy, when it was possible to complete the whole event without emitting a gram of CO2 into the atmosphere.
How does the success of the car prove that motorsport can become a completely ‘green’ sport in the future?
As mentioned before, it is about breaking the idea that an electric and sustainable motorsport is impossible. This project has led to change the mentality of fans, drivers and teams.
The EP100 has proven to be a real sustainable solution for the competition world. Nowadays motorsport lovers are witnessing the rise of new electric prototypes or new competitions that represent the electrified version of the main car competitions.
The EP100 has been one of the leaders of this revolution and has shown the way for those who want to invest on the future of the planet and the automotive industry that are becoming more and more.