Applicants to the scheme could get a new Nissan Leaf for £100 per month
A new consortium that includes Nissan, the Low Carbon Networks Fund and electricity provider Scottish and Southern Energy, is looking for 10 ‘clusters’ of potential electric car users across the country to test a new smart-charging system.
The ‘My Electric Avenue’ project is offering successful applicants a new Nissan Leaf on a £100 per month lease for an 18-month period. The Leaf drivers will also get a charging point fitted to their house free of charge.
Scottish and Southern Electric Distribution (SSE) is teaming up with EA Technology to trial a new charging technology which will attempt to minimise the effect of 10 electric cars being charged at the same time in a locale supported by a single electricity sub-station.
Called the Esprit, the new smart charging system developed by EA Technology is designed to ‘communicate’ with the local substation and the car chargers, balancing demand from local households with the need to re-charge the cars. Attempting, for example, to re-charge all 10 electric cars in the evening, which coincides with maximum demand from local households, would overload the local supply network.
Stuart Hogarth, director of distribution with SSE, told Autocar that the normal solution to increased demand would be be dig up the roads and install heavier-duty electricity cables. However, he said, this is an ‘expensive and disruptive’ solution. Using a smart charging system will allow the electric cars to be charged at the points of lowest demand.
Based on the needs of the individual Leaf drivers, those who have the longest daily commutes could also see their cars get more charging time. Drivers with shorter daily commutes would get less charging time on the network, but enough for the following day’s usage.
At the moment, the Esprit system does not communicate with the cars themselves, but in the future it could be possible to envisage a system that can tap into the usage patterns of people's cars and could even use information from a pre-set journey programmed into the sat-nav to ensure the car receives sufficient overnight charging.