The street of the future – neighbors in Marlow test the impact of a cluster of 9 electric vehicles on the local electricity grid

The street of the future – neighbors in Marlow test the impact of a cluster of 9 electric vehicles on the local electricity grid

In Marlow, UK the My Electric Avenue project has started.  The goal is to monitor and control (if needed) the electricity demand from charging electric cars in real-world use.

Marlow is the first of 11 clusters to be tested in the UK, from which each will consist approximately 10 electric cars used by residents of one street.  The first batch of nine neighbors in Marlow already received their all-electric Nissan LEAFs, charging points, and equipment that monitors and controls charging for use over 18 months.  A key element for the My Electric Avenue is that all cars are charged in close proximity, thus simulating a large number of EVs in the area.

"The project, which is led by EA Technology and hosted by Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD) aims to discover essential learning about managing the local electricity network as sales of cars with ‘plug-in’ capability continue to rise."

"My Electric Avenue is focusing on how best to manage the network when a large number of Electric Vehicles (EVs) charge in the same street at the same time. It is also the first trial that directly controls domestic EV charging to prevent underground cables, overhead lines and substations being overloaded. The project aims to prove a solution that would avoid the need to dig up the roads to install higher capacity electric cables."

One of the first challenges for the project was to recruit groups of neighbors on the same street in ten different locations. This took around a year.

Soon, similar clusters will take off in Chineham, Chiswick, Lyndhurst, South Gosforth and Wylam, two in South Shields and two workplace-based clusters in Slough Borough Council and Your Homes Newcastle.

According to the My Electric Avenue press release, interest in the project exceeded expectations with 111 potential participants signing lease contracts when just 100 were required.

"EA Technology has developed and is delivering the £9m My Electric Avenue project, as well as providing the technology used as part of the trial. The project also includes a number of other Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs), including Fleetdrive Electric and Zero Carbon Futures (ZCF). This is the first time a private company, EA Technology, rather than an electricity company (i.e. a Distribution Network Operator or DNO) has led and managed an Ofgem Low Carbon Networks Fund project, proving that SMEs can deliver on such projects."

"Although the Technical trials are now fully subscribed, My Electric Avenue’s Social trials are still open for business. The Social trials are designed to complement the information gathered during the Technical trials and participants can lease a new 100% electric Nissan LEAF at a specially negotiated rate for 18 months. Applicants can be individuals or groups and there’s no requirement to have any technology installed in the home. Spaces in the Social trials are limited and so the cars will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis."

One of the trial participants, Caroline Birkbeck, stated:

“The Nissan LEAF is the perfect car for short and medium length journeys. It’s also incredibly cheap to recharge, with running costs of just 10-15% of our diesel car. I’m delighted to be part of this trial, it’s already showing that electric vehicles are an ideal form of transport today, and they are likely to become even more popular as their technology develops in the future.”