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My Electric Avenue unveils EV grid research

Ofgem-backed project discusses technology to control charging of electric vehicles at peak times

A three-year project to discover what impact that electric vehicle demand might have on local electricity networks in the near future has published its findings today (3 December).

My Electric Avenue, an Ofgem-funded project, looked to see how charging clusters of EVs could affect electricity usage at peak times on a number of streets across Britain.

AQN EVs

Dave Roberts, project director at My Electric Avenue, discusses the findings of the trial

The pure electric vehicle, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, are becoming an increasingly viable mode of transportation for many residents looking to reduce their emissions and improve air quality.

The vehicles currently require 3.5kW of power, with customers predominantly made up of two-car, suburban families.

However, when 40-70% of electricity consumers become dependent on EVs, the study has found that 32% of local grids will require intervention.

Susceptible networks are typically characterised by available capacity of less than 1.5kW per customer. The latest EV models can charge at a rate of 7kW – double that of the vehicles used in the project.

Esprit

To overcome this looming crisis, My Electric Avenue trialled its ‘Esprit’ technology – a design that can control the charging of EVs if local grids reach a certain level of demand.

The £10 million trials were carried out in partnership with a number of organisations, automotive and energy businesses including EA Technology, SSE, Nissan, Northern Powergrid.

It found that participant streets – which included streets that had all agreed to use the EVs – became more aware of their electricity usage.

The peak times for charging were found to be before and after work on weekdays and afternoons on weekends. An estimated 70% of EVs are charged once a day, and over 65% charged until the battery is full.

The Esprit technology worked by temporarily curtailing charging for all EVs on one trial street on a rolling basis of around 15 minutes each. My Electric Avenue claims that the system could prevent roads having to be dug up and higher capacity cables installed at an economic saving for the UK of £2.2 billion.

Speaking at the launch event of the findings today, Dave Roberts, My Electric Avenue project manager, said: “What will happen in 15 years when your neighbours have electric vehicles and they all come home at the same time and plug in? If you added EV charging on top of that demand peak there is an issue there.

“The automotive sector has well established and effective communication channels to discuss industry issues. However historically there has not been much cross sector communication between the automotive and energy industries. My Electric Avenue has brought these two together and has started dialogue.”

Electrification

Paul Clarke, managing director of Automotive Comms, added: “The key way the [automotive] industry can get emissions down is by electrification. The scenario is that by 2040 the vast majority of vehicles sold in the UK will be ultra low electric vehicles (ULEVs). New Tesla cars have four times the battery life of the Nissan Leaf. The future is electric cars.”

Also appearing at the event, Olivier Paturet, general manager of Nissan Europe’s Zero Emission Strategy, said the UK has surpassed Norway as Europe’s largest consumer of Nissan Leaf vehicles.

On the trials he said: “It’s the largest project in Europe including EVs. There were some difficulties in public funding but Ofgen were clever enough to recognise including cars into this kind of research was the only way to do it.”

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