UK Power Networks (UKPN) has announced plans for trials to assess what is needed to implement a smart charging network for electric vehicles. UKPN says the new market will put EV drivers in control, enabling them to charge when and where they wish, rewarding drivers who choose to recharge at off-peak times.
The UKPN project, called SmartCar, has commissioned independent research on how smart charging (moving charging away from peak times in weekday evenings) can help avoid an increase in peak demand.
Extensive engagement undertaken as part of the project with stakeholders ranging from electricity suppliers, vehicle manufacturers, charge point operators and aggregators found significant support for progressing smart charging trials.
Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UK Power Networks, said smart charging is about promoting choice for consumers and offering incentives to change their charging patterns.
He said: “Enabling all customers to share in the savings generated by not having to build as much new electricity infrastructure could cut the cost of operating electric vehicles. We believe smart charging will enable us to support the uptake of electric vehicles across our networks at the lowest possible cost to customers. However, incentives from networks will not by themselves change people’s charging habits – it will need a mix of lower energy costs from retailers plus the reduced network cost incentives.
“There are several ways that we as electricity networks could approach the challenge of electric vehicles, one of which could be by installing failsafe technical network protection technology. We listened to what the industry and stakeholders told us and set out on an alternative path. A smart charging market gives consumers more choice. It’s the more challenging approach, but it’s also the right thing to do by our customers.”
Octopus Energy and its sister company, Octopus Electric Vehicles, is partnering with UK Power Networks on the Powerloop Vehicle to Grid trial supported by Innovate UK.
UKPN is a leading member of the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce, facilitated by the LowCVP and convening a diverse group of stakeholders to tackle powergrid-related opportunities and challenges arising out of the transition to electric vehicles.