120 years after Tesla transmitted electricity a Kiwi firm gives it a go

More than 120 years after Nikola Tesla first transmitted electricity through their like radio waves to people’s homes comes a Kiwi company with the same idea.

When Tesla proved it could work in 1901 (pictured above) his backers withdrew funding for further development – worried they couldn’t put a meter on it and charge people for the power they used. Imagine where we would be today had Tesla been allowed to continue his work (but that is another story).

This week, New Zealand firm Emrod is experimenting using its own system to transmit power through the airwaves of Taranaki.

The project has been enabled by Ara Ake, New Zealand’s national new energy development centre, and will be delivered in partnership with Powerco, New Zealand’s second-largest energy distributor.

Emrod’s long-range wireless power transfer system works by converting electricity into electromagnetic waves sent directly over the air to receivers and converted back into electricity for use by consumers.

This point to point wireless electricity transfer field demonstration follows successful in-door trials of Emrod’s technology in Auckland and will see power sent wirelessly over a distance of at least 200 metres.

The technology promises to improve sustainable energy uptake by making it easier to send power across challenging terrain removing the need to maintain cable infrastructure, and power moving targets, such as ships and large trucks.

Going wireless – safe, efficient and affordable

The field demonstration will be the largest New Zealand-based trial of wireless power transfer to date and will yield valuable data on the efficiency, performance and reliability of the technology when deployed in the field.

This pilot will take place on private land in the Taranaki region and be undertaken in line with all relevant health and safety regulations.

“This demonstration is an important next step in our efforts to bring safe, efficient and affordable wireless power transfer technology to the industries where it can make the biggest impact,” says Greg Kushnir, Emrod’s founder and CEO.

“We’re excited to have the support of Ara Ake and Powerco to make this Taranaki-based pilot possible. It’s a great example of how key players in the energy industry can work together to bring to market innovative solutions to speed up the uptake of renewable energy and support communities to access reliable power.”

Dr Cristiano Marantes, Chief Executive of Ara Ake, says the Emrod project embodies the organisation’s mission, to enable energy innovation to become commercially viable, and connect relevant stakeholders in the energy innovation ecosystem.

“We are delighted to support Emrod in bringing their first field demonstration to Taranaki, which puts the region at the centre of energy innovation, before expanding across Aotearoa,” says Marantes.

Reaching remote communities

Powerco partnered with Emrod following an industry showcase that saw Emrod demonstrate an earlier prototype of its technology. Powerco sees potential for wireless power transmission to distribute electricity to and from locations that have previously been difficult or expensive to reach, such as remote communities, or to provide continuity of supply to customers when conducting maintenance on existing infrastructure.

“The indoor trials demonstrated the technology works. Now we’re eager to see how it performs over longer distances at a higher power output – to prove that it can be practically applied to solve real-life challenges,” says Powerco’s Network Transformation Manager Ric Barbiellini.

As part of the field deployment, Emrod will be demonstrating the system’s safety features.

“Confirming the technology is safe to use around people and animals is paramount.” says Barbiellini.

Emrod aims to have its pilot underway early in the new year, subject to Covid-19 restrictions, and expects the wireless power transfer trials to take place over a period of several weeks.

The move to a field demonstration of the patented wireless technology follows Emrod’s completion last month of a successful fundraising round.

About Emrod

Emrod is opening up world access to sustainable power with world-first long-range wireless power transfer technology that is commercially viable. Emrod’s proprietary technology converts electricity into electromagnetic waves, which are sent directly over air to receivers and converted back into electricity for use by consumers. This means instead of having to lay cables and pylons to transmit electricity, it can be sent wirelessly. Learn more at www.emrod.energy.

About Ara Ake

Ara Ake is New Zealand’s new energy centre, based in Taranaki. We collaborate across the energy ecosystem to lead and facilitate the development of low emissions energy innovation and technology in New Zealand. Learn more at www.araake.co.nz.