Smart charging, the system that manages the recharging of electric vehicles to reduce pressure on electricity networks, could prevent the need for a costly overhaul of the nation’s electricity infrastructure to cope with widespread adoption of EVs, according to the interim results of a UK trial.
The Electric Nation trial has provided free Alfen or EVolt 7kW smart chargers to 700 users of electrified vehicles in return for access to their recharging data. The trial, which began in January and will continue into next year, was conceived by Western Power Distribution and EA Technology and aims to determine whether smart charging can help the electricity networks cope with the anticipated mass roll-out of EVs. Western Power Distribution is the largest distribution network operator (DNO) in the UK. It operates 185,000 electricity substations for 7.8 million customers. The company is concerned about what happens in the future if large numbers of EVs begin charging during a period of peak electricity demand.
“The worst period for us is a really cold winter’s evening when Manchester United are playing in the Champions League and everyone switches a kettle on at half time. That’s the peak period,” said WPD’s innovation manager, Mark Dale. “The network is designed to cope with that and copes well, but what we’re asking it to do now is fuel our cars and it’s never been designed to do that. With current predictions for EV take-up, that load could double during the evening peak.”