Villa Cora, perched on the hills above Florence, was commissioned by Baron Oppenheim at the end of the 19th century. It has sculpted gardens, suites, and an entire floor dedicated to Empress Eugenia, widow of Napoleon III. Villa Cora, it’s safe to say, almost has it all. Almost.
What it doesn’t have is charging infrastructure offering clean, renewable electricity for electric vehicles. Which became a bit of a sticking point, as it’s the location where we’re hosting test drives for the Polestar 1. Using the opulence of the Villa as a counterpoint to the minimalist style of the Polestar 1 was one thing; having to use diesel generators to charge our electric performance hybrids would, however, have been unacceptable. We needed a solution.
The solution came in the form of a hydrogen fuel cell, developed by Siemens and GeoPura. Their hydrogen fuel cell is providing clean, emission-free power to the ten fast chargers and two rapid chargers which are in turn powering each Polestar 1, without relying on the local power grid.
The hydrogen fuel cell and the Polestar 1 aren’t strangers. They first met at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed, where the cell powered all of the EVs (including the Polestar 1) in the First Glance Paddock, enabling the first zero-emissions Goodwood Hillclimb.
And this technology enables the production, storage, and transportation of clean and renewable energy (see sidebar for a breakdown). GeoPura and Siemens are the first to bring this end-to-end commercial setup to the world, showcasing what’s possible when it comes to ecologically friendly charging solutions. “The elegant beauty around us at Villa Cora reminds us that we need magnificent electric vehicles such as the Polestar 1,” states GeoPura MD Andrew Cunningham, “and we all need to seize the opportunity to enjoy a clean environment by using clean, renewable energy to charge these vehicles.”
Villa Cora does indeed possess an elegant beauty. And now, it also possesses clean, zero-emissions charging.
The hydrogen is first created by using an electric current to split hydrogen from oxygen in water. The resulting hydrogen, when combined with oxygen in the fuel cell, causes a redox reaction which then creates electricity (along with heat and pure water, the only by-products of this system).
The most innovative ideas are brought about through creative collaboration. Ideas that have the power to change; to revolutionise the status quo and spark social and environmental change. By connecting thoughts, experiences, skills, and intuition, visionary endeavours, like design, can be elevated from good to great.
Time is running out. To stay within the 1.5-degree target, we need to take immediate action. In the quest for circularity, transitioning to electric transport is one of several imperative steps. This step calls for a change in behaviour, from people, businesses, and governments. Because frankly, we don’t have time not to.