Electric Nation Tests Impact of Electric Vehicles on Electricity Networks

Electric Nation, a project funded by Western Power Distribution and the Network Innovation Allowance in the United Kingdom, is testing a smart-charging solution to better understand what impact electric vehicles (EVs) could have on electricity networks. The project is recruiting 500-700 people buying or leasing all makes and models of new EVs, all-electric and plug-in hybrids, to take part in the trial. Participants will receive free smart chargers that will provide data on electricity consumption.

The trial aims to expand current knowledge of the impact on electricity distribution networks of charging a diverse range of electric vehicles at home, how vehicle usage affects charging behavior given diversity of charging rate and battery size, and, evaluate the reliability and acceptability to owners of EVs of smart charging systems.

The project is expected show how effective demand management using smart chargers could be in comparison to costly reinforcement of local networks. It will provide network operators with the information needed to obtain a demand control service in the future. The project will also develop a tool that will allow local network operators to identify which parts of their network are likely to be affected by the future adoption of EVs and recommend the most economical solutions.

“While the U.K. electricity system has plenty of capacity to deliver energy to EVs currently and for the foreseeable future, smart charging can play an important role in ensuring electricity network upgrades are kept to a minimum as the numbers of EVs being charged at home increase,” says Mark Dale, innovation and low-carbon-networks engineer at WPD. “We believe that with the correct management of charging, the electricity network has the capacity to integrate the predicted uptake of EVs. Smart charging can allow management of the demand on the local electricity network and can help to avoid or defer work to upgrade infrastructure.”