This week marks the launch of Electric Nation, a new project to understand the load put on the electricity infrastructure by clusters of electric vehicles.
The trial includes a smart charging solution between domestic charge points and the local electricity network to allow the numbers of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK to increase, so avoiding the cost and disruption involved in upgrading local electricity infrastructure.
Electric Nation said the UK electricity grid has sufficient capacity to deliver power to electric vehicles, however if clusters of EVs develop in local areas and they’re all charged at peak times then some local electricity networks may become overloaded.
A previous My Electric Avenue project tested monitoring and control technology by recruiting clusters of EV users; all people in a cluster were fed by the same local electricity substation feeder, and just one type of electric vehicle was involved in the project.
The results of the project’s modelling showed that across Britain 32% of supply cables (312,000 in all) will require intervention when 40% – 70% of customers have EVs.
Intervention using smart technology, rather than digging up the roads to install new cables, has been predicted to give an economic saving of around £2.2 billion by 2050.
Electric Nation is seeking to recruit between 500-700 people buying or leasing new electric vehicles, including pure electric and plug-in hybrids, to take part in the largest trial of its kind. Trial participants will get a free smart charger installed.
Initially the trial will take place in certain geographical locations in the South West, South Wales, West and East Midlands covered by the Western Power Distribution (WPD) network.
The findings of the trial will help electricity network operators manage the effect of the additional load caused by charging EVs on the local electricity network whilst allowing electric vehicle numbers to grow.
Ben Godfrey, innovation and low carbon networks engineer at WPD, one of the partners in the project, said: “The Electric Nation project will provide the data, and the real-life experience, to enable us to introduce smart charging to manage potential capacity issues due to clusters of EVs charging at peak times.”
Mike Potter, managing director, DriveElectric added: “Motorists who are in the process of buying or leasing a plug-in vehicle are encouraged to visit the Electric Nation website and become part of our project.
"They will get a free smart charger, but most importantly, they will be helping to future-proof Britain’s electricity networks to facilitate the continued uptake of EVs.”