National trial to assess grid demand from EVs

Evolt Electric Nation smart charger

Evolt is taking part in the Electric Nation trial to create technology to manage surges in demand on the national grid during EV charging.

Evolt, the SWARCO Group’s eMobility brand, has been selected to provide its smart electric vehicle (EV) chargers for Electric Nation, a nationwide trial that is seeking to better understand the demand and impact that ‘at-home charging’ places on the local power distribution networks.

Greater demand is being placed on power networks as the take up of EVs widens, EV battery sizes increase and charging times get faster. This demand is particularly noticeable when EVs in the same local network are charging simultaneously.

The Electric Nation project aims to implement a prototype smart charging system that will better manage power distribution at a local level at peak times.

Evolt is providing its smart charging unit to 50% of the 500 – 700 members of the public that are being recruited for Electric Nation.

Its units will be subsidised by OLEV and Western Power Distribution (WPD), which is funding the project. Initially, the project will take place within the bounds of WPD (the South West, South Wales and the Midlands), but has the ability to be rolled out nationally.

A previous project, My Electric Avenue (which was smaller in scale and used only one type of EV and charger), found that 32% of the UK’s supply cables would require upgrading when 40% – 70% of a network’s customers have EVs. This is estimated to cost £2.2 billion. Electric Nation is now trialling a smart charging system that monitors the level of power going to many different makes and models of EV via a variety of charge points; in effect managing the distribution of power at a local level.

“Electric Nation’s scope is far broader than the previous My Electric Avenue project and is the world’s largest trial of its kind,” says Gill Nowell, Senior Consultant – Smart Interventions at EA Technology, which is responsible for developing the demand control technology, as well as the customer research, marketing and learning dissemination for the project.

“Evolt’s capability to provide smart chargers that stream information via the cloud was key to its selection,” she adds. “It also provides well-known, easy to use and reliable products that are installed throughout the length and breadth of the UK. Having proven systems that are trustworthy was also a central aspect to its selection.”

Justin Meyer, General Manager of Evolt, says the EV industry is constantly adapting: “We need to ensure that our local power distribution networks can cope with the increasing demands of EV charging,” he says. “We know that when everyone charges at the same time there is increased pressure on the grid. But by working together we can find the right way of optimising the grid’s availability and protect the future of EV charging as demand continues to rise.”

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