Motorists buying or leasing a new electric car – including pure EVs and plug-in hybrids – are invited to become part of the Electric Nation project.
The Electric Nation project was officially launched on 14 September, at the UK’s leading low carbon vehicle event, LCV2016, at Millbrook Proving Ground. Electric Nation is trialling 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 is the customer-facing brand of CarConnect, 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. Sales of electric vehicles in the UK are rising and there’s an increasing range of models to choose from, with larger batteries and faster charging times – all of which is helping to reduce emissions and to lower running costs for owners.
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.
The 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 per cent of supply cables (312,000 in all) will require intervention when 40 per cent – 70 per cent 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 (subject to eligibility and conditions) installed. 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, WPD, says: “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. This is predicted to save around £2.2 billion, as well as helping to avoid disruption to customers.”
Gill Nowell, senior consultant – smart interventions, EA Technology, adds: “My Electric Avenue showed that around 32 per cent of local electricity networks will require intervention when 40 per cent – 70 per cent of customers have EVs. Electric Nation is now addressing this challenge by trialling a smart solution with a diverse range of plug-in vehicles and charging rates.”
Mike Potter, managing director, DriveElectric concludes: “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.”
Motorists buying or leasing a new electric vehicle are invited to become part of the Electric Nation community. Initially the trial will take place in certain geographical locations, the WPD network areas in the South West, South Wales, and West & East Midlands.