Electric Nation comment on Green Alliance report ‘People power – How consumer choice is changing the UK energy system’

The Electric Nation project welcomes the Green Alliance’s recent report People Power – How consumer choice is changing the UK energy system’. In particular, it welcomes the prominence that the report gives to the work that Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) are doing to manage electric vehicle (EV) uptake.

Electric Nation Smart Charging Trial

Electric Nation would like to provide more information about some of the positive developments that are being carried out in the UK in relation to the domestic charging of electric vehicles.

Background to the Electric Nation project

Electric Nation is the world’s biggest electric vehicle project, which is currently recruiting 500-700 electric vehicle owners in Western Power Distribution’s licence areas to take part. The project is trialling a smart charging system that will control the demand from electric vehicles in the event of their load on the local electricity network being too high.

Electric Nation is a Western Power Distribution (WPD) and Network Innovation Allowance funded project. WPD’s collaboration partners in the project are EA Technology, DriveElectric, Lucy Electric GridKey and TRL.

Electric Nation is recruiting trial participants in the Western Power Distribution (WPD) licence areas in the Midlands, South West and South Wales.

The need for the project

The growth of EVs presents a new challenge for the UK’s electricity transmission and distribution network operators.

The UK electricity system has sufficient capacity to deliver energy to electric vehicles, however recent research suggests that if clusters of EVs develop in local areas and they’re all charged simultaneously then some local electricity networks may require costly reinforcement.

Research shows that at least 30% of GB low voltage networks (the cables and substations nearest to homes and businesses) will require investment by 2050 if adoption of electrified transport is widespread. This would represent a present day cost of £2.2bn. Disruption to customers in terms of roads being dug up and associated inconvenience would be huge.

What will the Electric Nation trial do?

This trial will help the Distribution Network Operators, who manage local electricity networks, increase their understanding of the impact of electric vehicles on their networks and how this impact could be reduced using smart chargers. The project will develop a tool that will allow local network operators to identify which parts of their network are likely to be affected by the future adoption of electric vehicles and recommend the most economical solution to solve any issues this could cause.

Benefits to electricity customers

The project will show how effective demand management using smart chargers is an alternative to costly network reinforcement. By avoiding or delaying the need to reinforce networks, at least £2.2bn cost savings could be realised, which would otherwise impact customers’ bills.

By taking part in the Electric Nation trial, customers will be able to take advantage of having a brand new smart charger fitted at their property for free, subject to eligibility and availability. They will also be helping to facilitate the future of electrified transport on our local electricity networks.

The policy context

On a national level, the project aligns with key UK Government policy goals:

The local level

On a regional and local level, Electric Nation will support the move to a low carbon economy. The shift away from the use of internal combustion engines to electric is gaining momentum. Electric vehicles afford people across all echelons of society a number of significant advantages:

How do people get involved in Electric Nation?

Motorists who are about to buy or lease an electric vehicle – pure electric or plug-in hybrid – are invited to become part of the Electric Nation community.

To find out about the Electric Nation trial and to check eligibility for a free smart charger, visit http://www.electricnation.org.uk/

Trial participants will need to meet a few eligibility criteria, such as being about to buy or lease an electric car (including plug-in hybrids), have off-street parking and home broadband.

Summary of UK EV-network projects

EA Technology, a power engineering company with over 50 years’ experience in supporting energy networks to become more cost-effective and reliable, has been working closely with GB’s Distribution Network Operators since 2012 to ensure that local electricity networks across the country will be capable of facilitating the unprecedented uptake in EVs. Working ahead of need, a number of DNOs have funded pioneering network innovation projects to evidence impact of clusters of EVs on local (Low Voltage) electricity networks, to demonstrate and understand customer acceptance of demand management of EV charging to manage and alleviate stress on networks, and to develop smart charging and, potentially, vehicle to grid solutions to further capitalise on the opportunities afforded by managed EV charging. Furthermore DNOs, Government and key stakeholders across automotive, utilities, energy and customer groups have come together to determine when and how managed EV charging could be deployed in order to avoid disruption to customers.

My Electric Avenue (2012 – 2015)   

Trailblazer trial deployment of electric vehicle demand control technology to assess and mitigate impact of EV clusters on local electricity networks (>200 customers engaged).

Smart EV (2016 – 2017)     

Cross-sectoral stakeholder management to achieve cross-industry consensus on standardised mechanism to facilitate EV uptake on local electricity distribution networks.

Electric Nation (2016 – 2019)      

Trial of complex smart charging demand control technologies across wide range of EV types (battery capacities and charging capacities); customer acceptance across 500-700 trial participants.

EV Network Group (2016 – 2018)

Cross-sectoral Group established by EA Technology to promote technological and infrastructural needs, in order to maximise the number of electric miles by 2030 in the most cost efficient way; supported by the UK Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

These projects provide the very latest data and information, both technical and behavioural, on EV impact on electricity networks and managed EV charging, from customer acceptance through mass customer trials of smart and managed charging, to collaborative work with UK Government on new standards for smart charging.




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