UK Power Networks launches EV smart charging market trial

Electric vehicle (EV) owners across London and the South and East of England have been invited to take part in a trial to uncover the economic, environmental and social benefits of charging vehicles during off-peak hours.

UK Power Networks launches EV smart charging market trial

The popularity of EVs is beginning to outstrip the UK’s charging infrastructure availability

Launched by UK Power Networks, the Shift trial will see up to 1,000 EV owners offered financial incentives to charge during off-peak hours. The trial will explore how smarter charging could avoid having to spend money to build new infrastructure to meet the increasing electricity demand of EVs.

UK Power Networks’ head of innovation Ian Cameron said: “We’re really excited to be working with our customers and industry on a nationally-significant trial that could revolutionise the electric vehicle industry. There has been a lot of talk about how smart charging could save customers money and help manage the network, but this is the first time we’ve actually set out to discover how.

“Stakeholders have told us that a smart charging market is what they’d like to see because it gives them both choice and freedom over how they charge their electric vehicle. Listening to this feedback, we are working with others to design new devices that enable customers to benefit from the low carbon transport revolution.”

UK Power Networks, which delivers electricity to 18 million people in London, the East and South East, is delivering Shift in association with Octopus Energy, intelligent energy platform Kaluza and charge point operator Pod Point. The companies will explore whether a large-scale, smart charging solution can be developed and rolled out nationwide by chargepoint operators, aggregators and energy suppliers.

Power demand

UK Power Networks added its first fully electric vans to its London-based fleet last October, and has acted as a key driver in the uptake of EVs and charging infrastructure.

The trial comes as the popularity of EVs is beginning to outstrip the UK’s charging infrastructure availability. PwC’s report, for example, reveals that the UK’s EV stock reached 134,000 vehicles in 2017 – a 54% increase on 2016 figures – and has almost doubled each year between 2011 and 20117.

In order to support this EV surge, the number of charging points installed across the UK has almost doubled between 2014 and 2017, the report claims, with numbers rising from 7,743 to more than 13,500.

But it appears consumer demand is outstripping infrastructure supply, with charge point installations experiencing a compound annual growth rate of just 44% during the four-year period. Earlier this week, Engenie unveiled fresh plans for expansion, which it claims will enable it to double the number of rapid chargers in the UK by 2024.

Energy UK’s policy manager Charles Wood added: “Energy UK welcomes the continued progress made by UKPN in trialling market focussed solutions and ensuring a positive customer experience, as well as wider engagement efforts of UKPN across innovation projects supporting the transition to a DSO model.”

In related news, all new-build homes could soon have to be fitted with an EV chargepoint. The Government has this week launched a public consultation on changing building regulations in England.

The government has also said that it wants to see all newly installed rapid and higher-powered chargepoints provide debit or credit card payment by Spring 2020.

Matt Mace

Comments (2)

  1. A Pigott says:

    I can tell them the economic benefits of charging during off-peak hours – 4.23p/kWh rather than 23.3p/kWh (at least in my case), as can probably every other electric car owner that charges at home. As for ‘smart’ charging, that is achieved with a 15 time clock wired in series with the circuit used for charging and set to coincide with Economy-7 hours

  2. Richard Phillips says:

    The elephant in the room, is the growing demand for electricity. But just how much new demand-lead generation plant is being built which is non fossil?

    Since all renewable plant is not demand-lead, but intermittent, the answer is very little, our nuclear ambitions are stumbling. But HMG seem to think that somehow it will just appear.

    Zero carbon by 2050, who’s got the wishing spoon?

    Richard Phillips

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