A residential property outside Nottingham has had the first eVolt smart electric vehicle (EV) charge point installed for the Electric Nation trial, which is seeking to find a smart charging solution that will better manage local level power distribution at peak times. Research suggests that some of the UK’s local electricity networks will need intervention to enable motorists to charge EVs at home at peak times. That research indicates at least £2.2bn would be needed for local electricity infrastructure upgrades.
Electric Nation is a Western Power Distribution (WPD) and Network Innovation Allowance funded project, and it is providing new electric car owners with a free smart charger. In return, the project will have access to charging data to help electricity distribution companies better manage electric vehicle charging.
Matt Tupper, who has had an eVolt smart charger installed for free at his house near Nottingham said: “I believe that more and more people will be buying electric cars in the coming years, so it’s really important that we can all recharge them. I would certainly recommend anyone buying an electric car to sign up to the project.”
Dave A Roberts, Director of Smart Interventions at EA Technology, the business responsible for trialling the demand control system, and delivering an electricity network modelling tool that will enable WPD to identify which parts of their network are susceptible to EV loads and to assess solutions to avoid network reinforcement works, explains the challenge facing electricity distribution companies: “Many local electricity networks serving our homes were never designed to cope with the demand from large numbers of high capacity electric vehicles,” he said.
“To avoid costly and disruptive upgrading work to cables and transformers, a smart solution, as being trialled by Electric Nation, could provide a much cheaper option to ensure we can charge our EVs.”
Justin Meyer, General Manager of eVolt UK, emphasises the importance of working together to find a solution: “The problem has been identified and the industry is coming together to find an appropriate and cost-effective resolution,” he said. “Electricity capacity has to develop side-by-side with EV and charge point innovations, and we are very happy to have been chosen as one of the two EV suppliers to enable this.”
The trial is seeking 500-700 members of the public to install a smart charge point on an ongoing basis to accurately measure charging levels, and eVolt, which is the eMobility brand of the SWARCO Group, is providing half of the trial’s chargers.
All smart charging units are subsidised by OLEV eligible households are initially required to be within the bounds of WPD (South West, South Wales, and the Midlands.) OLEV grants are only available to people with an EV who have not previously received OLEV funding for a charge point for that vehicle.