UK: £54m smart grid study partners with electric vehicle network

The trials are anticipated to help manage the increasing numbers of low carbon cars plugging in to Britain’s electricity supply...

Britain’s reported largest ‘smart grid’ project has joined forces with an electric vehicle (EV) recharging network to monitor the impact EVs have on electricity networks and support the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy.

The £54m Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) project and Charge Your Car—the UK’s largest regional network of EV charge points, say they will work together to monitor the typical energy consumption of EV drivers and gather valuable data about when and where owners charge their vehicles.

Dr Liz Sidebotham, Communications Manager for the CLNR project, said: “this gives us...access to a whole community of electric vehicle drivers and will see an additional 150 EV charging points being installed in homes throughout the North East [of England].

“Through the CLNR project, we’re conducting a number of innovative technological and customer trials to help create a ‘smarter powergrid’ that will be able to cope with the mass uptake of EVs and other electricity dependent low carbon technologies.

“Recently announced subsidies for EV charging points in homes and businesses will...encourage more electric transport, but it’s important to remember that the average EV uses 8kw of electricity when it is recharging.

“To put that into perspective, if in the future we have ten million EV owners who all put their vehicles on charge at the same time, it would equate to 80GW of power, which is the entire generating capacity we have available in Britain today.

“Add this to the overall demand for electricity in the UK at the moment, which is typically 40GW or 60GW at peak, and we’d have to double the existing generating capacity just to cope.

Electric cars are seen as crucial to the UK’s carbon reduction targets and, earlier this year, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that the Government would cover up to 75% of the cost of installing charging points for electric vehicles in garages and driveways.

Dr Colin Herron, director of Charge Your Car North Ltd, said: “We’re working towards the widespread roll-out of EV charging infrastructure and a driver-friendly recharging network, but we fully understand that the nationwide adoption of EVs will only be possible if these vehicles can be accommodated on the electricity network.

“Working with the CLNR project, we’re learning more about the typical energy consumption profiles of EV drivers and the data gathered will allow the project to begin laying the foundations of a smarter grid that can support the energy needs of millions of EV users.

“With sales of electric vehicles increasing year on year, it’s important that we work together now to make sure we can accelerate the uptake of EVs and support the low carbon future.”

Part funded by the Low Carbon Networks Fund, the CLNR project has already established trials with 12,000 domestic and commercial customers, many of whom have low carbon technologies, to assess current and future electricity consumption and generation profiles.

Led by Northern Powergrid and its partners British Gas, EA Technology and Durham University, the CLNR project will continue to study electricity consumption patterns, customer flexibility and trial pioneering new smart grid technology across electricity networks in the North East and Yorkshire regions throughout 2013.

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