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Electric vehicle trial will test local network capacity

Friday 16th September 2016

Drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) are being invited to take part in a trial which will set out to ensure local electricity networks can cope with increasing numbers of EVs in the future.

The ‘Electric Nation’ project is looking for 500-700 EV drivers to be part of the world’s largest trial of its kind, which is being organised by Western Power Distribution (WPD) working with a number of partners including the Transport Research Laboratory.

WPD says that while the UK electricity grid has sufficient capacity to deliver power to electric vehicles, if clusters of EVs develop in local areas and are all charged at peak times then some local electricity networks may become overloaded.

Previous modelling by WPD 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 £2.2bn by 2050.

Electric Nation is trialling a ‘smart charging solution’ between domestic charge points and the local electricity network to allow the number of EVs to increase, while avoiding the cost and disruption involved in upgrading local electricity infrastructure.

According to recent DfT figures (8 Sept) a record number of new ultra low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) were registered in the UK during the second quarter of 2016.

The figures show 9,657 ULEVs registered during the three month period April-June, a year-on-year increase of 49% and a 253% rise on the same period in 2014.

It is widely accepted that ULEVs are key to reducing vehicle emissions and there are hopes and expectations that all cars will be electric in the future.

However, one of the current stumbling blocks is the convenience with which these cars can be charged at home, as opposed to designated charging points.

The Electric Nation trial was officially launched on 14 September and will take place in the WPD network areas in the South West, South Wales, West and East Midlands.

Photo: Mariordo via Wikipedia. Use under the Creative Commons licence 2.0.

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