Electric vehicle owners are starting to have free smart chargers installed as a result of their participation in the Electric Nation project. The latest smart chargers will future-proof their electric vehicle (EV) home charging, and they will play an important role in a research project to ensure that the UK’s local electricity networks can cope with the ever-growing numbers of electric cars.
Sales of electric vehicles in the UK are rising, we’re told, and there’s an increasing range of models to choose from, with larger batteries and faster charging times – all of which are 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 need reinforcing. This could potentially be a worry as it is said electricity production is running at just 5% over need.
Electric Nation is trialling a smart EV charging solution which could interact between domestic charge points and local electricity networks to allow the numbers of electric vehicles in the UK to increase, whilst avoiding the cost and disruption involved in upgrading local electricity infrastructure.
The findings of the trial fronted by Western Power Distribution will help electricity network operators manage the effect of the additional load on local networks caused by charging EVs.
One of the first Electric Nation participants, Clive Harding (pictured), who lives near Worcester, has now had a smart charger installed for his Nissan LEAF EV. He joined Electric Nation as he was interested in the technology behind the project. Clive says: “I now have a smart charger fitted that is faster than a standard charger, and every time I charge my car the data will help to ensure that the UK’s local electricity networks can cope with the predicted increase in the number of electric vehicles.”
The project is seeking to recruit 500-700 people buying or leasing new electric vehicles (of all makes and models, 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 subject to eligibility and conditions.
Mark Dale, Innovation and Low Carbon Networks Engineer, Western Power Distribution, adds: “Historically the automotive sector and the energy sector have not worked together. However that needs to change due to the increased demand on local electricity networks from electric vehicles. The Electric Nation project shows that Western Power Distribution is taking the issue of the impact of EV numbers on electricity networks seriously, by trialling a solution to potential capacity challenges in the form of smart charging and demand control.”
Motorists buying or leasing a new EV are invited to become part of the Electric Nation community. Initially the trial will take place in the WPD network areas in the Midlands, South West and South Wales.
For more information and to check eligibility visit www.electricnation.org.uk