The fourth ePrix in the Formula E World Championship, the greenest auto racing series in the world, was held in one of the planet’s most polluted cities, a vast expanse of concrete, roads and automobiles paralysed by traffic: Mexico City.
It may seem ironic to bring a racing car event to such a location but the purpose, shared by every ePrix event in Formula E, in which Enel is a global partner, was precisely to demonstrate how today it is possible to race 20 high performance electric single-seat vehicles for almost one hour in a race that is a match for F1 in terms of thrills, speed and adrenalin. The race was won by Brazilian driver Lucas Di Grassi in his Audi that managed an average speed of 100,1 km/h. On the same circuit the fastest Formula 1 cars average speeds of 190.9 km/h but in the case of Formula E not one particle of polluting substances are emitted into the atmosphere.
There were no immediate benefits for the citizens of the Mexican capital, however, as on 1 April, the day of the race at the Hermanos Rodríguez circuit also used for F1, the air quality remained at its usual unacceptable level. Nevertheless, many of the 36 thousand spectators were able to reconsider the stereotypes about electric vehicles, observing that this technology is not only a reality but it is also capable of achieving high performance levels in terms of speed and power.
The thrilling spectacle of the ePrix also manages to raise awareness about the current reality and potential of the latest generation of electric transport. For this particular race in Mexico City, it did so within a context that is on the verge of environmental collapse. “By the next decade 80% of the world’s inhabitants will be residing in urban areas,” explained Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E. “The urban centres, therefore, represent concentrations of problems, mainly caused by vehicle emissions, that contribute significantly to global warming, but for this same reason they offer the ideal environment in which to propose solutions to combat pollution.”
“Cities will provide the best opportunities to improve people’s lives: the future of humanity will depend on how we are able to manage them. I am sure that the best solutions will definitely come from technology”
Alejandro Agag, CEO Formula E
Experimenting with ever improving technology within a tough testing ground has already brought solid results concerning the racing car batteries: until now Formula E drivers have had to change vehicle half way through the race when the energy reserves run out, however, from the next championship new rechargeable batteries will enable the completion of the race using the same car. Formula E does not intend to limit its scope to testing new technology, raising awareness and offering an enjoyable day out, however. The Formula E Championship also aims to encourage debate and generate ideas for a sustainable future with a cycle of forums about intelligent cities (launched in Mexico City with successive events planned for Berlin and Montreal) and a programme to boost startups, which during the forum will present original projects developed to improve the quality of urban mobility and, consequently, air quality and the lives of the inhabitants of the world’s great cities. At each event the project winner will receive a grant of 100 thousand dollars.
At the forum in Mexico City participants discussed the problems of urban mobility in the Mexican capital and suggested possible solutions. Speakers included Paolo Romanacci, Manager of Renewable Energy Central America at Enel, one of the main sponsors of the FE Championship as well the main distributor of renewable energy in Mexico. The day before the forum Enel began the construction of the Villanueva plant that is set to become the largest photovoltaic plant in the entire continent with 754 mW and the second largest in the world.
At the forum Romanacci also presented the V2G technology developed by Enel to cut vehicle emissions and at the same time stabilize the electricity network by reducing the demand for energy.
“This technology is one of the many ideas that will lead us towards the utopia of perfect smart cities. Each year, this goal becomes less far-fetched and increasingly real thanks also to the extraordinary technological laboratory that Formula E represents for us”
Paolo Romanacci, Manager of Renewables Central America at Enel