The Electric Nation project has completed its smart charging trials and has concluded that smart charging can be a key solution to easing the impact of increasing numbers of EVs on the electricity network. The initial findings suggest that there is sufficient flexibility in EV home charging behaviours to manage changing away from peak demand periods.
The trials - which lasted 18-months and is claimed to be the largest of its type in the world to date - show how effective demand management using smart chargers is an alternative to costly network reinforcement. It included data collection from more than 140,000 EV charging events.
One of the key outputs of the project is to provide network operators with the information required to obtain a demand control service in the future.
The project also aims to 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 solution to solve any issues this could cause.
The project's Initial findings show that, on average, vehicles are plugged in for over 12 hours, but they are rarely charging for the full time. Other conclusions from the project suggest that the average charging event starts with the battery already more than 50 percent full and that EV owners typically only charge their EVs three times a week.
Over the trial EV owners were involved in tests of smart charging strategies. These included the use of apps to encourage driver interaction with smart charging systems to minimize disruption to planned EV trips, and offering incentives to encourage EV owners to opt to charge their EVs when network congestion is low (e.g. overnight rather than early evening).
The trial recruited 673 plug-in EV drivers who represented a cross-section of plug-in vehicle types. The project monitored participants’ charging habits to gather data on charging behavior including frequency, length and amount of energy consumed.
The Electric Nation project was hosted by Western Power Distribution and delivered by a partnership of EA Technology, DriveElectric and Lucy Electric GridKey and TRL.
The Electric Nation trial took place in the WPD network areas in the Midlands, South West and South Wales.