Recent reports in response to the UK government’s announcement about the ban of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 have raised concerns about the ability of electricity networks to provide sufficient power for increasing numbers of EVs.

National Grid’s ‘Future Energy Scenarios’ (FES) included a number of scenarios which estimated the additional system-wide peak electricity demand from electric vehicles would range from 6 to 18GW in 2050. A lower increase (6 GW) is predicted when the use of smart charging and time of use tariffs is widespread. Further reductions in peak electricity demand are also likely to be possible by vehicle to grid charging (V2G); Electric Nation will be incorporating V2G trials into the project.

Electric Nation is investigating the benefits which smart charging could provide for local electricity networks, where additional demand from local clusters of EVs could require reinforcement of these networks.

Electric Nation’s initial findings to be presented at LCV2017 this week are based on almost 70,000 hours of charging data, and show that 48% of plug-in events begin between 5pm and midnight. On average, these vehicles are plugged in for 12 hours, but are only charging for just over two hours. This suggests that there is likely to be sufficient flexibility to manage charging away from peak electricity demand periods. This will be explored in detail through the smart charging trial taking place during the rest of 2017 and 2018.

Over 40 different makes and models of EVs are taking part in the trial, and the geographical hot spots of EV owners who are taking part will be revealed in Electric Nation’s presentation at LCV.

Electric Nation, one of Western Power Distribution’s (WPD) innovation projects, with collaboration partners EA Technology, DriveElectric, Lucy Electric GridKey and TRL, is believed to be the world’s largest trial of its kind, and is offering a free smart charger to 500-700 electric vehicle drivers.

The project is ahead of schedule with recruitment, having received over 2,500 enquiries, which have translated to over 700 signed expressions of interest, of which over 400 have been approved, and over 350 smart chargers have now been installed.

The Electric Nation trial is taking place in the WPD network areas in the Midlands, South West and South Wales.