“Electric Nation” Project Launched In UK

SEP 15 2016 BY MARK KANE 4

 Electric Nation logo

Electric Nation logo

On top of previous “My Electric Avenue project“, a new initiative concerning the national charging infrastructure has launched in the UK – entitled Electric Nation.

Electric Nation invites new all-electric and plug-in hybrid owners, (well, at least 500 to 700 of them) to sign up, and is offering a free smart charging station installations with enrollment.

The point of having all those EVs under one smart charging system is to monitor the plug-in vehicles influence on the electric grid, and try to figure out how best smart charging could offset part of the investment otherwise needed in the local gird capacity.

The previous (and more local) My Electric Avenue project, which grouped many EV owners on one particular electricity substation feeder, determined that about a 3rd of  supply cables would need upgrades when EV market penetration in Britain passed the 40-70% mark (which seems like a pretty big variance in result to us – perhaps why this new study is expanding?).

Because the project is lead by Western Power Distribution, initially the trial will take place in the South West, South Wales, West & East Midlands.

“The Electric Nation project is officially launched today, 14 September, at the UK’s leading low carbon vehicle event, LCV2016, at Millbrook Proving Ground. Electric Nation is trialing 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.

My Electric Avenue

My Electric Avenue

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% 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.

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% of local electricity networks will require intervention when 40% – 70% 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.”

Categories: Charging, General

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4 Comments on "“Electric Nation” Project Launched In UK"

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It’s lovely to see things moving in this field! Smart charging electric vehicles could do a ton of good for decarbonizing the electricity grid by acting as energy sinks for renewables. When there is plenty of electricity available EVs can charge as much as they like, when energy is needed elsewhere electricity would be directed there and only minimal charging would happen. This way the need for grid storage would be significantly reduced. To support this EVs could have two charging levels in their user interface, one “priority” level and one “availability” level. The car would then always charge up to the priority level but only charge to the availability level if the grid says there is surplus energy available. Incentives could be introduced that give a discount for charging at availability level and/or penalty for priority charging. So when you’re just using your EV as a commuter you’d set the priority level quite low, perhaps 50% and the availability level at 80%. That way you know you always charge to at least 50% to keep you over the day (I am assuming future cars will have Bolt-level packs or higher here) but if you are going to do a… Read more »

BMW ChargeForward scheme wasn’t involved in this. Which is interesting. That smart charging scheme actually pays drivers for taking part.

Good on them, as they live in the UK sadly they will not be driving a GM Bolt.

No mention of energy storage which is a/ clearly going to become very popular very quickly (with Hinckley Point given the go-ahead it is clear that HMG, at least, are convinced the cost of electricity will be about 3 times higher than it is now by the time it goes live – if it ever does) and b/ will take a huge amount of load off the grid as it stands now, let alone in 5 years (or whenever) time.